CHANDIGARH, Punjab—Talking with Sikh24 over the phone, Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur said that Badal often claims that the Akali Dal and BJP have relationship of husband-wife, so in this case, why doesn’t he ask the union government to release the political prisoners? “Union Government is not stalled by the Supreme Court to set free the Sikh political prisoners, so why isn’t Badal taking any initiative?,” he asked.
The Supreme Court judgement on remission of life sentences has come in at the right time for the Punjab Chief Minister to make an excuse to not release Sikh political prisoners. Parkash Badal has stated that while “some” of the cases could be considered again, he is helpless in making any surety on potential output.
“This is a very sensitive issue and the people should understand the limitations of the government acquiring patience. Regarding hunger strike of Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, we cannot compromise with law and order. Maintaining mutual brotherhood and peace is our prior responsibility”, he said.
Manjhpur stated that Badal should submit the list of 65 Sikh prisoners to union government to take up the issue. “I don’t feel that Badal Government has taken any initiative in this regard so far”, he stated.
Advocate Manjhpur termed Badal’s above mentioned statement as abstaining from his responsibility as Chief Minister of Punjab. He said that Badal was under pressure of Hindu nationalists, and was not taking the issue seriously.
In relation to Manjhpur’s statement, legal experts have stated that there are still a number of options available to the Punjab Government to release Sikh political prisoners. Justice RS Sodhi (retd) has maintained that notwithstanding stay on state’s right to release the prisoners ruled by Supreme Court, state governments could move the apex court to present their case with arguments and thus they could ensure release of respective prisoners.
He said that under section 72 of the constitution, union government had the right to commute or end the imprison term of a prisoner on the basis of his character, illness, old age etc. Same right has been provided to the states by the constitution under section 161.
“Those prisoners, who have completed 20 years or more of their terms, need not any commutation for release,” he said. Importantly, he said that on July 9, 2014, the Supreme court ruled stay on the right of state government but not on that of union government. Actually he indicated that union government could release the prisoners despite court stay on state’s right.
Corruption in every sector in Punjab can b seen everywhere. One can see it in Govt hospitals easily ,;: although Badals claim very proud for their rule – see Bus stations, roads ( other than main roads) buses, electricity, Punjabi language promotion etc?