Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court
Tuesday commuted the death sentence of the mastermind in Beant
Singh assassination case to life imprisonment, while it upheld
the trial court penalty to four other accused in the case.
A division bench of the court comprising Justice Mehtab
Singh Gill and Justice Arvind Kumar termed the case of Jagtar Singh Hawara, who was awarded capital punishment by the trial
court in 2007, as a "boundary line for death" and converted
his sentence to life.
"It was found that Hawara was not found near Chandigarh
on July 30 and 31 in 1995...his case is boundary line for
death...he is sentenced to life and will not be released till
death," Justice Gill said while pronouncing the order.
However, the bench upheld the capital punishment of
Balwant Singh awarded by trial court in July 2007. Besides,
the bench also upheld the life sentence of three accused
Shamsher Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Lakhwinder Singh.
Barring Balwant Singh, all the accused had filed an
appeal against the trial court order in the High Court where
the case was heard regularly since February and the arguments
were concluded in September this year.
The bench also observed that Balwant Singh had made three
confessional statements on his involvement in the killing of
the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh on August 31, 1995.
The court observed that the role of Shamsher Singh,
Gurmeet Singh and Lakhwinder Singh was of providing logistic
support in the plan to eliminate Beant Singh.
Suicide bomber Dilawar Singh and his accomplices killed
the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in a blast on
August 31, 1995 outside civil secretariat here in which 17
others were also killed.
Defence counsel Baldev Singh told reporters outside court
premises that he would decide about the next course of action
only after going through the detailed order of the court.
Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh were awarded
death sentence by a Special Court in Chandigarh on July
31, 2007, eleven years after the assassination case.
Three accused Shamsher Singh, Lakhwinder Singh and
Gurmeet Singh were awarded life imprisonment while Naseeb
Singh was given ten years imprisonment which he had already
undergone during the trial which spread over 11 years.
Jagtar Singh Hawara, Balwant Singh, Shamsher Singh,
Lakhwinder Singh and Gurmeet Singh were convicted under
Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 120 B
(criminal conspiracy) of the IPC while Naseeb Singh was held
guilty under the Explosives Substances Act on July 27.
The seventh accused Navjot Singh was acquitted by the
In the high profile case, two other accused Jagtar Singh
Tara and Paramjit Singh Bheora had escaped from the Burail
Jail alongwith Hawara, who was later re-arrested.
Three others named in the case, Mahal Singh, Wadhawa
Singh and Jagroop Singh are absconding while three NRIs
Manjinder Singh Grewal (England), Resham Singh (Germany) and
Harjit Singh (USA) were declared Proclaimed Offenders (POs) on
February 19, 1996.
A total of 15 persons had been named as accused in the
charge sheet, besides the human bomb Dilawar Singh, who died
in the blast at the entrance of the 10 storeyed Punjab and
Haryana Civil Secretariat here.