Death Sentence cannot be commuted on another’s plea if convict himself waived his right to appeal and seek legal help

Punjab and Haryana High Court: An interesting case came up before the High Court in which the sister of Balwant Rajoana (assassin of former CM of Punjab, Beant Singh) pleaded for commutation of his death sentence awarded to him in 2010 against which the prisoner himself never appealed, but accepted. He was ordered to be executed on March 31, 2012, but it was later stayed by the Home Ministry.

The petitioner’s counsel started the arguments by explaining the locus standi of the prisoner’s sister in this case and citing various judgments of Apex Court, said that the prisoner himself is inarticulate and unable to express himself and therefore, his sister can take up his cause for she has no personal gain in this.

To this, the Court clearly said that it is not true that the prisoner was not aware of his rights, rather he knew about his rights to defend himself during the trial but he deliberately chose not to seek any legal help. The Bench of Rakesh Kumar Jain, J. further went on to explain the concept of aggrieved person in criminal jurisprudence saying that the Supreme Court had rightly enumerated exceptions of filing a writ petition in the nature of habeas corpus or quo warranto or even by way of a public interest, but it denied fitting the case before them in any of the exceptions as it was the prisoner himself who denied to seek any legal help. [Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana v. Union of India,  2017 SCC OnLine P&H 2983, decided on 07.11.2017]

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