Government agrees to commutation of death sentence to Devinder Bhullar
The government told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it had no problem with the commutation of death penalty of convict, Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, in the 1993 bomb blast in New Delhi, which killed 12 people and injured 29 others, to life term.
Bhullar, a Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) militant, was sentenced to death in 2001 for causing a car bomb.
The government said that a delay in the deciding mercy plea was ground enough for commutation of Bhullar's death sentence.
Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati said to a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, 'this is a case which has to be allowed because the mercy petition of the convict was decided after a delay of eight years', to which the bench agreed.
The court will announce its decision in the case on Monday or Tuesday.
"The bench greatly appreciated the candid statement of the attorney general, and therefore there was no further need for argument and the matter has been reserved for judgment on Monday or Tuesday," said K.T.S Tulsi, lawyer in the case.
The bench had earlier inquired about Bhullar's health conditions and had examined a medical report of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), where Bhullar is being treated for mental illness.
Earlier in January, the court stayed Bhullar's execution and had agreed to review its earlier judgement in which it had rejected convict's plea to commute his death sentence.
However, outraged at the centre's move, a bomb blast victim and former leader of Congress M. S. Bitta felt if Bhullar's death sentence was commuted, his entire family's life would be in danger.
"If now there is any bomb blast on me or my family or if somebody kills me then Sonia Gandhi and Ahmad Patel will be responsible for it, who are wearing masks. They are openly helping terrorists and want to free militants so that there are attacks on us again. This is unfair," said Bitta, who is also the Chairman of All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF).
Meanwhile, an advocate and a human rights activist, H.S. Phoolka, welcomed the government's initiative in the wake of Bhullar's mental health.
"The first judgment of Supreme Court clearly states that if somebody's mental state is not okay then he cannot get death sentence. This was to be done by the central government, and it is a good thing that agreeing with the Supreme Court, central government applied this in Supreme Court and has said that his execution should be stayed," said Phoolka.
On January 21, the Supreme Court of India commuted the sentences of 15 death convicts to life imprisonment, due to delays in their execution.
The death penalty of 13 condemned prisoners has been commuted to life because of delay on part of President to decide their mercy pleas.
The other two were given life sentence after it was revealed that the imprisonment, while awaiting their sentence, had turned them mentally ill.
(Posted on 28-03-2014)