New Delhi, April 12, 2013: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed death row convict Prof Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s plea for commuting his capital punishment to life imprisonment.
An apex court bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice SJ Mukhopadyay said the petitioner had failed to make a case for commuting death sentence to life imprisonment, on grounds of the delay by the President in deciding his mercy plea.
The apex court said: “Death penalty cannot be commuted to life sentence on the grounds of delay.”
“Petitioners have failed to make out a case for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment on grounds of delay,” said the SC bench.
The apex court bench had reserved its order on April 19 last year on the issue on a plea of Prof Devinderpal Singh 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.
Prof Bhullar was awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi in September, 1993, killing nine people.
The Supreme Court had on March 26, 2002, dismissed Prof Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by trial court and endorsed by the Delhi high court.
He had filed a review petition which was also dismissed on December 17, 2002. Prof Bhullar had then moved a curative petition which too had been rejected by the apex court on March 12, 2003.
Prof 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 last year.
Chandigarh/ Punjab (April 6, 2013): Protesting against the ban imposed by Punjab Government on Sadda Haq Punjabi movie the producer and actor Kuljinder Sidhu has termed the ban as shameful. The film was released worldwide on Friday, April 5. However, a day ahead of the release of the film on Thursday (April 4), Punjab government decided to ban the film under pressure from the police and the bureaucracy.
The neighboring state of Haryana and the UT of Chandigarh have also banned the film. Kuljinder Sidhu has termed the ban “shameful” and a “black spot on democracy” and said that they were planning to move the court to revoke the ban on his film.
“It’s a black day in the country’s democracy. It’s unfair that a few bureaucrats watched the film and decided to impose a ban,” Sidhu reportedly said.
“We tried to seek an appointment with Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to impress upon him that the decision was unjustified, but in vain.”, he added.
“When the censor board has approved it, and even the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) has given a nod, I don’t understand this ban. The CM and deputy CM should have been involved, but this is a decision taken by a few bureaucrats,” added Kuljinder Sidhu.
The Punjabi film is based on the events in the 1980s and 1990s in Punjab.
The film was scheduled to be released on Friday, April 5. The ban on the film came after several senior government officials, including chief secretary of the state watched the film and decided to put a ban.
“The film was banned to maintain communal harmony in the state and it won’t be released in theatres till further orders,” said a statement from the government.
The Punjab government has imposed a ban on the screening of Sadda Haq, a Punjabi film glorifying the Khalistan movement and its leaders, on the eve of its worldwide release scheduled for Friday.
The decision was taken late Thursday night after senior bureaucrats and police officers, led by chief secretary Rakesh Singh, saw the movie.
“This step has been taken to maintain communal harmony in the state,” a spokesperson for the SAD-BJP government said.
The All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) and human rights group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) on Monday released a list of 90 Sikhs who were allegedly murdered during the 1984 riots in Bokaro (Jharkhand), Allahabad and Mirzapur (Uttar Pradesh).
Karnail Singh Peermohammad, AISSF president and SFJ co-coordinator, claimed to have procured addresses of the Sikh victims as well as the FIRs in this regard. The AISSF president alleged that Congress leaders Aziz Amam, a former MLA, and PN Tripathi abetted violence against Sikhs but were yet to be punished.
Peermohammad claimed that in the first week of November 1984, a mob burnt many Sikhs alive at Gurdwara Singh Sabha in the City Centre, Bokaro, besides Bihar Colony, Dhanbad Road, Cadra Cinema and Gujarat Colony. He said the transport area, where many Sikhs used to live, was attacked and houses and factories set afire.
Bokaro was part of Bihar till 2000, when Jharkhand was carved out as a separate state.
He stated that in Allahabad, Swami Karam Singh (65), president of Nirmal Panchayat Akhada, fought against the mob with a rifle but was shot in the head. Peermohammad said the mob also killed a Sikh youth, Allahabad University student Virender Singh.
The federation had earlier made disclosures about the killings of Sikh in Haudh Chilhar (Haryana) and Riyasi (Jammu and Kashmir) in the riots that followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The AISSF president announced that they would hold candlelight peace marches in New Delhi and Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) on December 10 on Human Rights Day. He said the riot victims’ family members would also participate in these marches to pay tributes to the “martyrs” and increase public awareness about the 1984 genocide.
He said the Sikh genocide petition, carrying signatures of 25,000 Sikhs, would be presented to US President Barack Obama on December 15. Peermohammad hoped that Obama would consider the petition seriously and take suitable action.
SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar has rapped the Uttarakhand government for preventing the entry of a Sikh jatha into the state for participating in the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 28 at the spot where gurdwara Gyan Godri at Har-ki-Pauri in Haridwar once stood.
“The jatha after performing ‘ardas’ at the Akal Takht had left for Haridwar to celebrate the Guru’s birth anniversary at the spot where the historic shrine stood before it was demolished in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. However, the Congress once again demonstrated its anti-Sikh stance by preventing Sikhs from going to Haridwar,” said Makkar in a statement issued here on Saturday.
Makkar alleged that the decision of the Congress government in Uttarakhand was in keeping with its policy of subduing the Sikh community. Time and again, the Congress had interfered in the religious affairs of Sikhs, the statement claimed.
“We want to make it clear that the Sikh community is determined to re-construct the historic gurdwara at Har-ki-Pauri. We know that the Congress is opposed to this and will try all means to stop the Sikhs,” the statement added.
Makkar claimed that on a number of occasions in the past he had taken up the issue of re-construction of the shrine with successive governments of Uttarakhand. He advised the Congress to consider the sacrifices made by Sikhs during the freedom struggle and not to create hurdles in the construction of the gurdwara.