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Professor DPS Bhullar Case: Supreme Court (India) reserved final judgement on death sentence execution

April 20, 2012 | By

New Delhi, India (April 19, 2012): The judgement on Sikh political prisioner Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s plea against execution of death sentence awarded by an Indian court was reserved by the Supreme Court of India on Thursday (April 20, 2012).

Bhai Mandhir Singh, youth leader of Akali Dal Panch Pardhani informed Sikh Siyasat that the Indian court may pronounce it’s reserved judgement any time with in next 30 days.

Professor DPS Bhullar was awarded death sentence under TADA, a law that was widely misused by the Indian state and enforcement agencies against Sikhs in particular. TADA had special provisions validating certain evidence, which are otherwise inadmissible under Evidence law. TADA also provided for mandatory death punishment, which is now considered as ultra-vires of the Constitution of India. Bhullar’s death sentence was approved by Supreme Court of India in a split decision, in which presiding judge of Supreme court bench acquitted Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar while two other judges confirmed his death sentence.

Current petition in Supreme Court of India was moved by wife of Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar claiming that the Government of India (GOI) unduly kept her husband on death row for more than eight years.

Bhullar’s wife had sought Supreme court’s intervention by pleading that the Government of India had unduly delayed the decision on constitutional review petition (under Article 72 of the Indian constitution), which was moved on Professor Bhullar’s behalf by “Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar Defence Committee” in 2003. It was contended that undue delay in deciding the constitutional review petitions amounts to cruel treatment and mental torture to a death row convict.

It is notable that GOI that had failed to decide the petition over a stretch of eight years was quick enough to reject Professor Bhullar’s petition within days after his wife moved to the Supreme Court of India.

An order was passed by the SC bench in lieu to the pleadings that Bhullar be spared from the gallows as he had virtually undergone life sentence due to the long delay in the rejection of his mercy plea. The Centre had opposed his plea, earlier.

The Centre was directed by the SC bench to have a time-frame for deciding constitutional review petitions. The additional solicitor-general sought three months for getting the government’s response to the suggestion.

The delay in review petitions by executive against death sentences has affected people’s faith in the government’s ability to maintain law and order on such matters, court stated.

Bhullar’s wife had approached the SC seeking commutation of the death sentence on several grounds including undue delay and his mental ailment.

Professor DPS Bhullar is a victim of state repression who was framed in a bomb blast case and sentenced to death, while his family members were subjected to enforced disappearance and were killed in custody by the security agencies. A police officer Sumedh Singh Saini who eliminated Professor Bhullar’s friend, father and uncle is current Director General of Punjab Police. A CBI probe recommended trial against Sumedh Saini. CBI investigation showed that there was enough evidence against Saini and other cops involved in these killings. But the Supreme Court of India dramatically granted relief to Sumedh Saini on “technical” grounds and set-aside the whole proceedings. It is notable that both father and uncle of Prof. Bhullar were gazetted officers with Government of India while his friend was son of an IAS officer. They had no criminal record and were facing no charges. They were eliminated because of political activism of Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar.

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