Judge who gave death sentence finally given bullet-proof car

September 28th, 2008 - 2:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Sep 28 (IANS) A senior judicial officer who awarded death sentence to two terrorists involved in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh has finally been given a bullet-proof car to augment his security - but only after the court stepped in.Additional District and Sessions Judge Ravi Kumar Sondhi has been provided a bullet-proof Ambassador car by the Punjab government, but not before the Punjab and Haryana High Court gave a rap to the state and the central governments on delaying tactics in allotting him such a car.

Sondhi had in July last year sentenced to death two pro-Khalistan terrorists from the Babbar Khalsa terror outfit for their involvement in the Aug 31, 1995, assassination of Beant Singh with a human bomb here.

Sondhi had pronounced the death sentence for Jagtar Singh Hawara, the mastermind, and Balwant Singh. The Babbar Khalsa was seeking a separate Sikh homeland called ‘Khalistan’. Three others found guilty in the assassination conspiracy were given life imprisonment.

Fearing a threat to the life of Sondhi following the sentencing, the high court and security agencies beefed up his security cover.

Beant Singh, who was largely credited in getting Punjab back to normalcy with the support of supercop K.P.S. Gill with an iron hand in early 1990s, was assassinated by a human bomb, Dilawar Singh, at the high-security Punjab civil secretariat complex here.

On directions of the high court, the Chandigarh police were asked to provide Z-category security to the judge. Though the Chandigarh police provided him with armed security and even stationed two police control room (PCR) Gypsys and personnel round-the-clock, he was not provided with a bullet-proof car.

Justice Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court this week directed the Punjab government to provide a bullet-proof car to Sondhi and also issued contempt notice to a central government official for rejecting the allotment of a bullet-proof car to Sondhi.

The high court took strong objection to the fact that while Punjab’s advocate general and a senior IAS officer, who were both not in the Z-category security, were given bullet-proof cars, Sondhi was being denied one.

“The role of the governments in this case in shying away from their responsibilities to provide security aid to a judicial officer, who while discharging his judicial function dealt with a highly sensitive case, is clearly noticeable,” Justice Ranjit Singh observed.

The high-profile Beant Singh assassination case trial took over 11 years and 250 witnesses for the conviction and the sentencing to be announced. The case saw nearly half a dozen judges being transferred even as it used to be heard in a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court inside the high-security Burail jail here.

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