In a surprise move, Congress MP Manish Tewari has advocated for the release of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in the murder of then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh. "Being a Terror Victim I understand anguish of my colleague Ravneet Bittu but as a Lawyer & MP from Punjab it is my considered view-S.Balwant Singh Rajoana having served 26 years in Prison his death sentence be commuted to life and he be released by passing orders under Sec 432 CRPC". Tewari on Wednesday said that Rajoana should be released from prison by invoking section 432 of CrPc. "Criminal jurisprudence of incarceration needs to be grounded in reformation & not retribution," he said. Ravneet Singh Bittu, the grandson of Beant Singh, had opposed the release and had written a letter to the Prime Minister to order investigation in SAD demand for the release. The matter came to fore after Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and ensure the expeditious release of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana to fulfill the promise made to the Sikh community to release eight Sikh prisoners, who have served more than the effective equivalent of a life sentence, on the eve of the 550th Parkash Purb celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019.
While calling for the release of all such Sikh prisoners, the SAD president urged the Prime Minister to intervene and expedite the matter of clemency of Bhai Rajoana with the competent authority to commute the death penalty awarded to him and ensure his release at the earliest. The Union government had approved the commutation of Bhai Rajoana's death sentence to life imprisonment as a humanitarian gesture in 2019. Badal said the issue warranted the urgent attention of the Prime Minister since a clemency petition under Article 72 of the Constitution, which was filed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on March 25, 2012, was still pending with the President. He said the Supreme Court had also issued a notice to the Union government to take a call on his mercy petition by April 30. Badal asserted in his communication that he was hopeful that the Prime Minister would appreciate that there was no rationale to keep Bhai Rajoana behind the bars when the Union government had commuted his death sentence. He said the Sikh prisoner had already been incarcerated in prison for 26 years, which was much longer than the effective duration of a life term.