Friday, April 12, 2013

Supreme Court rejects Bhullar’s mercy plea

NEW DELHI, April 12, 2013 PTI

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar's plea for commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment on ground of delay in deciding his mercy plea.

Delivering the verdict in a packed courtroom, a bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya said that the petitioners failed to make out a case for commutation of sentence.

Today's decision will pave the way for his hanging and is likely to have an impact on 17 other convicts on the death row, including those held guilty in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Bhullar's Canada-based wife, Navneet Kaur, who was present in the court when the bench read out two sentences of the operative portion of their verdict, looked dejected and refused to respond to questions from reporters as she left the court premises.

The Supreme Court had reserved its order on April 19, 2012, on the plea of Bhullar's family, which had filed a petition on his behalf pleading that his capital punishment be commuted to life imprisonment as there has been "inordinate" delay in deciding his mercy plea and he is not mentally sound.

It was submitted that prolonged incarceration of a death row convict awaiting his/her execution amounted to cruelty and violated the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Bhullar was awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in Delhi in September 1993, killing nine people and injuring 25 others, including then Youth Congress president M.S. Bitta.

The Supreme 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 Supreme 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 25, 2011.
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