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Beant Singh's family to move SC over commutation of Rajoana's death sentence

Beant Singh's family to move SC over commutation of Rajoana's death sentence

By Dharmendra Joshi(Eds: Adds quotes) Shimla, Oct 1 (PTI) The family of slain Punjab chief minister Beant Singh will challenge in the Supreme Court the Centres decision to commute Balwant Singh Rajoana's death sentence, the leaders grandson said here on Tuesday. The Centre has sparked a row with its decision to commute the death sentence awarded to the Babbar Khalsa terrorist for Beant Singhs assassination to life imprisonment. Beant Singh and 16 others were killed in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh in August 1995. We will challenge the Centre's decision in Supreme court, Punjab MLA and Beant Singhs grandson Gurkirat Singh Kotli told PTI. We are taking legal opinion on what grounds it will be challenged. One of the main grounds for challenging the Centre's decision will be that Rajoana himself had never apologised and had never moved any mercy petition for commuting his death sentence, he said. Earlier, Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, who too is grandson of the assassinated leader, had criticised the Centres decision. Kotli, who is an All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary and an MLA from Punjabs Khanna, termed the Centres decision unfortunate and politically motivated. The Modi government should make it clear whether it is with peace-loving people or with those who want to vitiate the atmosphere, the MLA said. Kotli alleged that the Centre took the decision as Rajoana had appealed for votes for the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ally Shiromani Akali Dal during the last Lok Sabha elections. He claimed that Rajoanas sister Kamaldeep Kaur had posted this appeal on her Facebook page. A special court had in July 2007 awarded the death sentence to Rajoana, along with another terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara, in the Beant Singh assassination case. Rajoana was to be hanged on March 31, 2012, but the Centre stayed the execution after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) submitted a mercy petition to the President. The decision now to commute the sentence to life imprisonment comes weeks ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. PTI DJI RDK ASH