Politics of Clemency !

R.D. Bharadwaj 


Balwant Singh Rajoana, one of the convicts of murder of late Shri Beant Singh, former Chief Minister of Punjab, who was killed in a bomb blast triggered by some terrorists on the 31st August, 1995. Rajoana has been found guilty of the crime by the District Court and has been given death sentence by hanging, to be awarded on 31st March, 2012, but now the said sentence has been stayed by the Central Govt. after the clemency petition against this order has been moved by Mr. Prakash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab.

It is indeed very shocking and sad to note that the sentence awarded after following due process of law has been put on the hold. Hon’ble Supreme Court has rightly expressed its anguish and displeasure over the mercy petition being entertained, as it is being misused for narrow and parochial political reasons. Common man also fails to understand as to why some criminals, who have committed heinous crimes like terrorist activities, murder or rape etc. on innocent people, are being shown any signs of mercy. Some leaders sitting in powerful constitutional positions are misusing their political positions for furtherance of their petty political ambitions, least bothered or concerned about its impact on the society as a whole.

It is also a matter of every body’s knowledge that a particular political party of Punjab, even when extremism and terrorism was at its peak in the late eighties and early nineties, and thousands of people paid its price by sacrificing their precious lives, the same political party had never condemned the gruesome crimes committed by the terrorists. Rather, some news-papers also used to report during those days, that as and when some terrorists got killed by the police, their leaders used to attend the Bhog ceremonies of terrorists. It is indeed a matter of huge concern that instead of respecting a good and bold verdict delivered by a Court of Law aimed at cleansing the society of anti-social elements, which caused even death of former Chief Minister of Punjab, has succumbed to the pressure from SGPC and has moved a clemency petition for staying the death sentence.

One more aspect which seems to have been totally ignored or chosen to be bye-passed while deciding the matter in this quagmire, is that nobody has bothered to take an opinion from the family members of late Shri Beant Singh, who was very much responsible for extinguishing the flames of extremism and terrorism (which had engulfed thousands of precious lives of innocent law abiding citizens) from the soils of Punjab during those days. One experiment after another had failed to check such terrorist activities and bring the much desired and required peace and harmony and put the most prosperous state back on the track of progress and prosperity. Many of the now-a-days big leaders had even chosen not to contest the 1992 Punjab Assembly elections as the terrorists had given a boycott call at that time. And it was by the virtue of the herculean efforts of Mr. Beant Singh and Mr. KPS Gill, former DGP Punjab during those times, that terrorism could be uprooted from the soil of Punjab and the state could be steered out of dark phase of such heinous crimes and the whole nation had heaved a sigh of big relief. Thus, by staying the hanging of Rajoana, the Central Govt. has certainly not done justice to a great reformist soul called Beant Singh and he might be feeling anguished by such a negative decision. Moreover, had Mrs. Indira Gandhi been at the helm of the affairs these days, she would certainly not have taken such a bad decision.

Whilst on clemency petitions, these should be dealt with very sparingly after giving a lot care to the crime committed by the convict for whom such a petition is being considered. Petitions where the crime has been committed while defending himself or some close relative or friend, may be showered some compassion and leniency; but other petitions belong to terrorists, extremist, rapist, extortionists and burning of innocent citizens should be better rejected altogether; as they bring such anti-social elements back to the national mainstream, which is certainly not a good proposition. Moreover who will guarantee that such people will not indulge in any such criminal activity in future? In addition to that, it should also be kept in mind that playing a devil’s advocate also puts his nationalistic credentials fall into the doubtful category.

Furthermore, I would also like to opine that the clemency pleas made to the President should be disposed off maximum within 30 to 45 days, as stretching the same for years together, only complicates the matter unnecessarily, like the one pertaining to Afzal Guru who attacked parliament in December, 2001 and is still cooling his heels in jail, instead of facing the gallows. Think of the country first and everything else comes afterwards. To cleanse the society, the guilty of every type deserves to be punished severely, and let the courts have the final word over such matters.

And lastly, political meddling in criminal cases where the courts have already conducted lengthy trials and awarded strict punishments, should be better avoided in the larger national interest, as such interferences lower the dignity and relevance of the courts, besides, many other perverted minds in society also get a clue that they may also ultimately get an escape route even after committing such heinous and gruesome crimes.