The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking death penalty for Babbar Khalsa terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara, the mastermind in the sensational killing of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995, saying the offence falls under the category of 'rarest of rare' cases.
The agency has approached the apex court challenging the Punjab and Haryana high court judgment which had commuted the death penalty of Hawara on October 12, 2010 and had sentenced him to life imprisonment "till death", holding that it was a borderline case for capital punishment.
"We are pressing for death penalty on the grounds that the case falls under the category of 'rarest of rare' cases. It was a most serious offence where 17 people were killed including a chief minister of a state and 15 were injured," Additional Solicitor General Harin P Raval said.
"The role of Balwant Singh (a co-accused) was lesser than that of Hawara. This man was the kingpin who planned the entire conspiracy," Raval said.
The high court had upheld the death sentence given by the trial court to Balwant Singh while confirming the life sentence of three others--Shamsher Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Lakhwinder Singh.
Suicide bomber Dilawar Singh and his accomplices killed 73-year-old Beant Singh in a blast on August 31, 1995 at the entrance of the 10-storeyed civil secretariat at Chandigarh in which 17 others were also killed. Dilawar Singh too was killed in the explosion.
Barring Balwant Singh, all the accused had filed an appeal against the trial court order in the high court.
Hawara and Balwant Singh were awarded death sentence by a special court in Chandigarh on July 31, 2007, nearly 12 years after the assassination.
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, 2007.
The seventh accused Navjot Singh was acquitted by the special court. 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 are absconding while three NRIs were declared proclaimed offenders. In all, 15 persons had been named as accused in the chargesheet.