May 29, 2011 | By Jaspal Singh
Ottawa/Canada (May 29, 2011): The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is gravely concerned by developments in the case of Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, who was sentenced to death on 29 August 2001 for allegedly “plotting terror attacks” in New Delhi India in 1993. On May 26, 2011, Indian President Pratibha Patil rejected Prof. Bhullar’s mercy plea which had been outstanding for the past 8 years.
WSO stands against the death penalty as it is a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. WSO calls upon the Indian Government to establish a moratorium on executions in accordance with the United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights resolution of April 1999.
In 1995, Professor Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who had applied for political asylum, was deported from Germany to India. This deportation was recognized by court ruling to have been made in due to ‘grave procedural errors’. Although Germany does not impose the death penalty, as was subsequently recognised and confirmed by court ruling, should never have taken place, since the German authority carrying out the deportation had committed grave procedural errors.
Upon his return to India, Prof. Bhullar was sentenced to death in August 2001 for “plotting terror attacks” including a bomb attack in 1993. An appeal to the Supreme Court of India in 2002 was unsuccessful. At the Supreme Court, while two of the three judges upheld the death sentence based on a ‘confession’ made in police custody, the presiding judge submitted a dissenting opinion, acquitting Prof. Bhullar, citing a lack of corroborative evidence for Professor Singh Bhullar’s “confession”. A second defendant in the case was acquitted because the only evidence against him was Prof. Bhullar’s confession. It is to be noted that Prof. Bhullar subsequently retracted his confession and has insisted it was made under torture.
In 2003, Prof. Bhullar filed a mercy petition to the President of India was supported by Amnesty International and also by the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of the German Bundestag. On Thursday, after eight long years, the mercy petition was denied by the Indian President.
WSO Senior Policy Advisor Gian Singh Sandhu said, “Prof. Bhullar’s conviction was marred by procedural errors, questionable evidence and a ‘confession’ extracted under torture. It is shocking that despite a strong dissent by the presiding judge at his appeal, his death penalty will stand.”
WSO President Prem Singh Vinning added, “Prof. Bhullar has suffered in limbo for the past eight years. He suffers from numerous health problems as a result of the continuous stress. It is unacceptable that he faces execution based on evidence extracted under torture. This cannot be acceptable to any civilized country and it should not be acceptable to India which prides itself as the ‘largest democracy in the world’.
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