Supreme Court commutes Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s death sentence to life imprisonment

New Delhi,31 March-2014(IANS): The Supreme Court Monday commuted the death sentence of 1993 terror convict Devenderpal Singh Bhullar to life imprisonment on the grounds of inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition and on the grounds of mental illness. On January 31, the SC had stayed Bhullar’s execution and had agreed to review its judgement, rejecting his plea to commute his death sentence to life term.

Supreme Court commutes Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s death sentence to life imprisonment

Death Sentence (2007 film)

symbolic image of Death Sentence ( film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The apex court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice S.J. Mukhopadyaya while commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment referred to the apex court’s Jan 21, 2014 verdict which said that inordinate, unexplained or unreasonable delay in deciding mercy petition was dehumanizing to death row convict and was a ground for commuting death sentence to life imprisonment. In a big relief to Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, the Supreme Court on Monday commuted death sentence of the 1993 Delhi blast convict.

The central government, on March 27, admitted that there was delay in deciding Bhullar’s mercy petition and the court could decide on his wife’s plea for commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment.

Bhullar was convicted for his involvement in 1993 Delhi bomb blast case and his wife Navneet Kaur has sought commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment on grounds of delay in deciding his mercy petition and also on grounds he is suffering from mental illness.

A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Justice RM Lodha, Justice HL Dattu and Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya was told that the court, by its January 21 verdict, had already decided that inordinate and unexplained delay in deciding the mercy petition by the president is a ground for commuting death sentence into life imprisonment. The court by its January 21 judgement had said the commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment on the grounds of inordinate, unexplained and unreasonable delay in deciding the mercy petition was not limited to the death row convicts tried under the provisions of criminal law but also to those convicted under anti-terror laws.

The court had also said that besides delay, insanity/mental illness/schizophrenia could also be the grounds for seeking commuting death sentence to life imprisonment. ( IANS inputs)