Explain delay in Bhullar's mercy plea: SC to govt

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked theCentre to explain a delay of over eight years in deciding themercy plea of terrorist Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, who wasawarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast here inSeptember 1993 killing nine people.

A bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi asked the Centre tofile an affidavit by October 10, explaining the delay indeciding Bhullar's mercy plea of 2003, rejected by Presidentin 2011.

"Everybody is anxious to know what happened during theseeight years. What happened between 2003 and 2011?" the courtsaid while asking the government to file its response.

Bhullar was sentenced to death by a TADA court on August25, 2001 for his role in the September 10, 1993 bomb blast inDelhi targeting the cavalcade of then Youth Congress PresidentManinderjit Singh Bitta who escaped with serious injuries,though nine security personnel were killed.

The Supreme Court had on March 26, 2002 dismissedBhullar's appeal against the death sentence.

He had then filed a review petition which was alsodismissed on December 17, 2002. Bhullar then moved a curativepetition which too was dismissed by the apex court on March12, 2003. Bhullar, meanwhile, had filed a mercy petitionbefore the President on January 14, 2003.

The President, after a lapse of over eight years,dismissed his mercy plea on May 25 this year.

Bhullar is currently undergoing treatment at theInstitute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) inShahdara for hypertension, psychiatric illness and suicidaltendencies.

In a petition to the apex court, his wife Navneet Kaurhas contended that the May 25 order of the President ought tobe quashed as "the same suffers from lack of application ofmind, non-consideration of relevant circumstances andpresumably having been made on extraneous grounds."
She has also pleaded for altering his death penalty tolife term saying it would be "inhuman and violative of Article21 of the Constitution" to carry out his execution.

Kaur claimed that Bhullar has turned "mentally retarded"due to delay of more than 5,700 days in deciding his mercyplea. She claimed the last time she met him at IHBAS, shefound him to be quiet, withdrawn and unwilling to talk.

"His condition has continued to deteriorate since hisconviction in 2003. Earlier, she thought he was only sufferingfrom hypertension and arthritis but now she realises thepsychotic symptoms with suicidal tendencies are a by-productof suffering a slow death on account of being a condemnedprisoner since 2001.

"Execution of a mentally retarded prisoner is consideredto be cruel and inhuman and should be deemed to be prohibitedunder Article 21 of Constitution of India. In the US, there isa national consensus that mentally retarded persons areexcluded from execution because it can neither serve as aretribution nor deterrence," said the petition.

Kaur cited the apex court's ruling in the Triveniben VsState of Gujarat (1989) case that undue delay in execution ofdeath sentence entitles the condemned prisoner under Article32 of the Constitution to approach court that his deathsentence be commuted to life imprisonment.