Chandigarh, Oct.12 (ANI): A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today annulled the death penalty awarded to Jagtar Singh Hawara, prime accused in the assassination of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
The verdict was pronounced at Chandigarh on Tuesday (October 12).
The High Court judges also upheld the trial court's punishment awarded to four other accused in the case.
The Division Bench of the court comprising Justices Mehtab Singh Gill and 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.
However, the Bench upheld the capital punishment of Balwant Singh awarded by trial court in July 2007.
Apart from this, the Bench also upheld the life sentence awarded to three other accused persons, Shamsher Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Lakhwinder Singh.
"The extreme penalty may not be given to him and the honourable division bench agreed with this holding that it is a border line case when others have been given imprisonment for life, why a different treatment to Hawara? So he has been given the benefit although according to CBI he was the mastermind and wholly and solely responsible for all this crime," said Baldev Singh, counsel for accused Jagtar Singh Hawara.
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 about his involvement in the killing of the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh on August 31, 1995.
Beant Singh and 14 others, including six of his security guards, were killed in the bomb blast on August 31, 1995 at the entrance of the State Secretariat in Chandigarh. (ANI)