BHULLER CASE : SC GIVEN PERMISSION FOR OPEN COURT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear in an open court the plea of Khalistan Liberation Force terrorist Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar for commutation of death sentence awarded to him for the September 1993 blast to life imprisonment.
A bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and justices R M Lodha, H L Dattu and S J Mukhopadhaya decided to hear the curative petition filed by Bhullar’s wife Nevneet Kaur on Friday.
The hearing in the open court assumes importance in view of the January 21 judgment of five-judge constitutional bench holding that inordinate and inexplicable delay by government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence.
Bhullar’s wife filed the petition for a re-look against the apex court verdict which had rejected her plea to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment on grounds of delay on the part of the government in deciding his mercy plea.
Bhullar was convicted and awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi in September 1993, which killed nine persons and injured 25 others, including then Youth Congress president M S Bitta.
The apex court had on March 26, 2002 dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi high court in 2002.
He had filed a review petition which was also dismissed on December 17, 2002. Bhullar had then moved a curative petition which too had been rejected by the apex court on March 12, 2003.
Bhullar, meanwhile, had filed a mercy petition before the President on January 14, 2003.
The President, after a lapse of over eight years, dismissed his mercy plea on May 14, 2011. Citing the delay, he had again moved the apex court for commutation of the death sentence but his plea was rejected.
The apex court on January 21 had held that inordinate delay by government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence and had granted life to 15 condemned prisoners including four aides of forest brigand Veerappan.
In a landmark judgment, the court had held that prolonging execution of death sentence has a “dehumanizing effect” on condemned prisoners who have to face the “agony” of waiting for years under the shadow of death during the pendency of their mercy plea.