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Prof. Bhullar’s case: Centre admits ‘inordinate delay’; Says Death sentence has to be commuted

March 27, 2014 | By

New Delhi, India (March 27, 2014): The Supreme Court of India (SCI) today held hearing of commutation plea of Sikh political prisoner Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, who has been on death row in India since 2001. The petition was moved by Professor Bhullar’s wife after January 21 decision of the the Supreme Court of India commuting 15 death sentences to life imprisonments mainly on the ground of undue delay in execution caused by inordinate delay deciding the constitutional review petitions by the the President of India.

Free Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar

[File Photo]

The SCI had asked the Government of India (GOI) to make it’s submission the clemency petition. The centre (GOI) today submitted in the court that there was inordinate delay in deciding Prof. DPS Bhullar’s constitutional review petition.

“This is a case which has to be allowed because the mercy petition of the convict was decided after a delay of eight years,” Attorney General G E Vahanvati told the bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam which said that a short order will be pronounced on March 31.

The Attorney General also said that he was making the submissions to this effect as the Centre’s petition challenging the January 21 judgment, in which it was held that inordinate delay by government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence, has been dismissed.

“So we have to follow the January 21 judgement and we have no problem,” Mr. Vahanvati said.

He said there was no need to go into the merits of the curative petition filed by Bhullar wife Navneet Kaur.

At the outset, the bench, also comprising justices R.M. Lodha, H.L. Dattu and S.J. Mukhopadhaya, wanted to know about the health condition of Bhullar and perused the February 8 medical report of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).

The bench had on January 31 stayed Prof. Bhullar’s execution and had agreed to review its earlier judgement by which it had rejected Porf. Bhullar’s plea for commutation of death sentence.

It had issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government on a curative petition and had also directed IHBAS, where Prof. Bhullar is being treated, to file a medical report on the condition of the death row convict who is alleged to be suffering from mental illness.

The plea of Prof. Bhullar’s wife for commutation of death sentence assumes significance in view of the SCI’s January 21 verdict holding that inordinate and inexplicable delay by government in deciding constitutional review petitions of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence.

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