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.