Patiala, Punjab: Balwant Singh Rajoana was on Tuesday taken out of solitary confinement and allowed to meet with other convicts in Patiala jail following orders from the office of Inspector General (Prisons) Jagjit Singh.
Rajoana had been locked in a condemned cell since his conviction in July 2007 in the assassination of former chief minister Beant Singh.
“We have issued instructions to the Patiala Jail Superintendent to move Balwant Singh Rajoana out of the solitary confinement cell,” said Inspector General Prisons Jagjit Singh.
“He shall be allowed to meet other convicts and interact with them during daytime from today, till his mercy petition is decided. Various other restrictions have also been revoked,”he said.
A Chandigarh-based advocate, Navkiran Singh, had filed a PIL in Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2010, apprising it of a 1979 Supreme Court judgment, pertaining to solitary confinement.
In response to the PIL, the governments of Punjab and Haryana had told the court that they shall abide by the SC’s directions and take all convicts, whose mercy petitions were pending with the President, out of solitary confinement cells.
“Till date, Rajoana was under the constant supervision of jail warders. According to the rules, jail staff were designated, in shifts, to keep an eye on him round the clock even while he was sleeping. His food was prepared separately and checked before being served. He was not allowed to interact with anybody, unless permitted by the jail authorities. Rajoana’s family members were allowed to meet him in his cell. Even his clothes were to be approved by the jail authorities. All such restrictions shall not be on Rajoana, from today onwards,” the IG said.
“From our side, there shall be no restriction on his interaction with other convicts, or movement inside the jail premises, since he is not a condemned prisoner now, in wake of the pendency of his mercy petition,” he said.
Author: Varinder Bhatia, Indian Expressbhai balwant