A special court, which awarded life imprisonment till death to Khalistani militant Jagtar Singh Tara in connection with the assassination of the then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh on Saturday, observed that ideological difference cannot be a trigger or justification for murdering someone.
Beant was assassinated in 1995 in a bomb blast that killed 16 others and injured 15 critically.
In a 149-pages-long judgment, additional district and session judge JS Sidhu said a criminal case cannot be decided on the basis of ideology as “it cannot be decided that the ideological version of which party is correct and that of which party is wrong”.
“It cannot be considered a proper reason for causing the murder of someone and that a criminal case is to be decided as per the settled law of the land by following the legal procedure,” the judgment read.
The court also held that it was well established that the convict was an active member in hatching the conspiracy and he had all the knowledge about it.
This fact is very much clear from the record that he purchased the car which was used in (committing) the offence and then he carried RDX in the vehicle,” the judge observed.
The court also took into account the fact that Tara showed no remorse over the killing of Beant Singh and he instead tried to justify his action in written.
The court also took cognisance of the confessional statements made by Tara at various stages starting September 1995. He had also submitted a six-page letter in the court in January this year.
Regret death of 16 others in blast: Tara
Tara on Saturday said he had no remorse for killing Beant Singh, but he regretted the death of 16 others in the blast outside the civil secretariat in Chandigarh.
The special public prosecutor pleaded for death penalty for Tara. However, the court was of the view that this wasn’t a rarest of rare case and not one where capital punishment should be imposed “keeping in view the totality of the circumstances, including the age and antecedents of the convict”.
Referring to previous judgments in the matter, the court observed that the co-accused in the case Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh Rajoana were conspirators of first category while Lakhwinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Shamsher Singh (also accused) are found to be conspirator of second category.
“… Jagtar Singh Tara is also on the same footing as of Lakhwinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Shamsher Singh as he aided in the conspiracy. In this way, he is conspirator of second category in this matter… The high court observed that Lakhwinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Shamsher Singh were merely pawns in the hands of Balwant Singh and Jagtar Singh Hawara. This court is of the view that the same is the case of Jagtar Singh Tara,” the judgment read.
Tara is 43 year-year-old and at that time he was around 20 years only, the court said, adding that he had expressed remorse over the killing of “innocent people” and had left the spot before the incident took place.
Kin, supporters gather outside jail amid tight security
A large number of Khalistani supporters and Tara’s family members gathered outside the Burail jail where the court proceedings took place. They started gathering in the morning and stayed till the order was pronounced.
Several men wearing T-shirts with Tara’s photo raised slogans in support of Khalistan and Tara soon after the quantum of sentence was pronounced.
Tara’s family members, including his brothers, sisters-in-law and cousins, were present. Sarabjit Kaur, whom Tara considers his sister, had come all the way from England. She was relieved that Tara was not awarded death penalty. His brothers and sisters-in-law, some of whom had come from a Ropar village, also expressed satisfaction over the quantum of sentence, claiming that whatever he did he did it was for the sect.
Tight security arrangements were made by the Chandigarh police outside the jail. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann was also present.