#India – Execution of Prof. Bhullar deferred #deathpenalty


 

By 

New Delhi, India (June 19, 2013): It is learnt that citing the “bad physical and mental health” of Sikh political prisoner Prof. Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, the office of the Delhi Lt. Governor of Delhi have deferred his execution.

According to a news reported by Indian Express (IE): “[t]his decision, a source said, was taken after scrutiny of the report submitted by the medical board formed by the Delhi government to ascertain Bhullar’s condition. The file has been forwarded to the office of the Director General (Prisons), Tihar Jail, the source said”.

“An objective, compassionate and humane view of the case has been taken after considering the deteriorating physical and mental health of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar and it has been decided to defer the matter. This decision was taken after scrutinising the report submitted by the medical board. Subsequently, he will be examined by a medical board again and the matter will be re-examined, the source said”, the news reported by IE reads further.

In its report, the medical board is learnt to have stated that Bhullar suffers from severe depression with psychotic symptoms. The jail manual states that a death row convict has to be declared physically and mentally fit before execution.

The file stating the L-G’s views has reportedly been recently forwarded to the office of the DG, Tihar, which will now send it to the home ministry before it is finally sent to the Delhi government.

It is notable that there was strong opposition to the execution of death sentence lashed upon Prof. Bhullar by Indian courts. Prof. Bhullar is sentenced to death in a highly contested manner by the Indian courts, and the Supreme Court of India repeatedly upheld his execution in a surprisingly controversial manner, where the the presiding judge of three judges bench acquitted him but two other judges upheld his death sentence on strange reasoning ignoring the absence of evidence against Prof. Bhullar.

Prof. Bhullar and his family are the victims of state-repression, as seven members of his family suffered severe custodial torture; whereas two from the family – Prof. Bhullar’s father and uncle, were secretly killed by Punjab police during enforced disappearance.

Delhi’s Lt. Governor’s decision is expected to brought a sigh of relief for Prof. Bhullar’s family as the decision has halted the execution of Prof. Bhullar for the time being but it must be remembered that the decision does not remove him from the death row permanently.

Professor Bhullar must now be released: Sikh Federation UK


By 

Published: May 24, 2013

Prof. Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar

London, United Kingdom (May 24, 2013): The Sikh Federation (UK) has urged all those concerned with the death penalty in India and the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar to push for not only the death penalty to be commuted, but for his immediate release given how long he has been in prison and the state of his health.

The statement by the Sikh Federation (UK) follows the ruling by the medical board set up by the Indian Government to look at Professor Bhullar’s health, which it has been reported has come to the conclusion that he suffers from severe depression with psychotic symptoms and suicidal tendencies.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK)

‘What this should mean in any civilised society is that Professor Bhullar cannot now be executed. Someone on death row who is declared not to be physically and mentally fit cannot be executed.’

‘Professor Bhullar’s family and his doctors have repeatedly stated he has almost certainly become severely psychiatric because of the delay in deciding his mercy petition. The Indian state is directly responsible for the state of his health and the Home Minister; Sushilkumar Shinde should do the decent thing by recommending to the Indian President that the death penalty should be commuted. ‘

Shinde has already had many official approaches and stated recently he was considering Professor Bhullar’s case. He now has the verdict of their own three-member board comprised chairperson Dr S K Khandelwal of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and psychiatrists from Maulana Azad Medical College and G B Pant Hospital.

There have also been many unprecedented statements from former and current senior judges, former leading police officers and others in support of Professor Bhullar that have gone as far as to say as far as they are concerned he is innocent and deserves to receive compensation from the Indian state for his false imprisonment and for the mental and physical suffering or torture he has endured in the last 18 years.

The Sikh Federation (UK) has also welcomed the statement yesterday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg by EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger on the death penalty in India and the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. Bhai Amrik Singh said:

‘The EU has also commented on their concerns about Professor Bhullar and that his mental health has come about as he has had to wait for more than a decade for the decision on his mercy plea.’

In the European Parliament yesterday it was stated:

‘The EU has constantly sought to engage with the Indian authorities on the capital punishment and its application in the country, and will continue doing so. To this end, we must make full use of the Human rights dialogue that takes places locally. We look forward to receiving a date from the Indian government to hold the next meeting, postponed several times in the recent past, as rapidly as possible.’

‘Direct contacts with the Indian government, including by way of diplomatic representations and demarches, will continue too. The EU Delegation in Delhi has been proactively asking the Indian government to set up a meeting to be appraised on the developments on capital punishment in India. Once again, our hope is that such a meeting can take place urgently.

 

Germany opposes death penalty for Devender Singh Bhullar


death-penalty
New Delhi, May, 10 (ANI): Germany has opposed the death penalty for Indian convict, Devender Singh Bhullar, who is facing the gallows for the 1993 militant attacks on a top police officer and also a political leader, claiming several lives.

Bhullar was extradited from Germany and tried by a court in India. German Ambassador to India, Michael Steiner said on Friday that they were against death penalty, as they don’t believe that it serves the cause of justice.

The Supreme Court had last month rejected a petition by Bhullar seeking that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment as his mercy plea had not been decided by the President for a long time.

Bhullar was given the death sentence for killing nine people with a car bomb in Delhi in 1993.

 

Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s wife moves SC for stay on execution of death penalty


Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 13:32 IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

The apex court had on March 26, 2002 dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.

Devinderpal Singh Bhullar.

1993 Delhi blast convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar‘s wife today approached the Supreme Court seeking stay on execution of his death sentence till her review plea against its verdict is decided.

She submitted in her plea that she has filed a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict of April 12 in which the court had rejected her petition to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment on ground of delay on the part of the government in deciding his mercy plea.

Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist Bhullar was convicted and awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast here in September 1993, killing nine people and injuring 25 others, including then Youth Congress president M S Bitta.

The apex court had on March 26, 2002 dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.

He had filed a review petition which was also dismissed on December 17, 2002. Bhullar had then moved a curative petition which too had been rejected by the apex court on March 12, 2003.

Bhullar, meanwhile, had filed a mercy petition before the President on January 14, 2003. The President, after a lapse of over eight years, dismissed his mercy plea on May 25, 2011.

Citing his delay, he had again moved the apex court for commutation of the death sentence but his plea was rejected.

The apex court had on May one commuted the death sentence awarded to murder convict M N Das, whose mercy petition was rejected by then President Pratibha Patil.

The court had allowed the plea of Das who had approached it for commutation of his death sentence on the ground that the President had taken twelve years to decide his mercy plea

 

Asian Centre for Human Rights cites Mahendra case, seeks mercy for Bhullar #deathpenalty


bhullar

TNN | Apr 19, 2013,

GUWAHATI: The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) on Thursday submitted a fresh mercy plea to President PranabMukherjee seeking commutation of the death sentence of condemned prisoner Devender Singh Bhullar to life imprisonment. The rights body argued that since another prisoner on death row, MahendranathDas of Assam, had his mercy plea considered by two Presidents, Bhullar should also be given the same benefit.”There is already a precedent for the President of India to reconsider a mercy plea twice. The mercy plea of death row convict Mahendra Nath Das of Assam was considered twice as shown from the minutes of the Rashtrapati Bhawan supplied under the RTI Act,” ACHR director Suhas Chakma said.

Das committed the first murder in 1990 and while he was out on bail in 1996, he committed the second murder. In 1997, a trial court sentenced him to death for the two counts of murder. Das’s appeal was rejected by the high court in 1998 and by the Supreme Court in 1999. He is still waiting for the execution of his death sentence as his petition questioning the delay in his hanging for 16 years is pending in Supreme Court.

The RTI document states that former President Abdul Kalam on September 30, 2005, had accepted Das’s mercy plea and had advised the home ministry to consider extending clemency to him. Kalam had sent a communication to the home minister noting that the conduct of Das did not show trace of pre-meditated murder and that the crime might have been committed due to lack of mental equanimity and advised the home minister to consider extending the benefit of clemency to Das and added that during his incarceration in prison, he may receive periodic counselling to reform his personal and mental psyche.

However, the same recommendation was recalled by Kalam on October 5, 2005 and when he demitted office on July 24, 2007, Kalam noted that the case may be put up to his successorPratibha Patil, who subsequently rejected the mercy petition.

Das had earlier submitted his mercy petition to former President K R Narayanan in 1999 and the then home minister L K Advani had recommended rejection of the petition. Narayanan did not take any decision on the petition during his tenure and the same was put up to his successor, Kalam.

“If Das’s mercy plea could be reviewed twice, there is no reason as to why Bhullar’s mercy plea cannot be considered afresh.” Chakma said.

Giving 10 grounds for the consideration, the AHRC called upon the Centre India to commute Bhullar’s death sentence to life imprisonment, declare a moratorium on death penalty and set up an expert committee to consider ways and means for final abolition of death penalty.

 

It was “most inappropriate” and “judicial error” to confirm death sentence in Prof. Bhullar’s case: Public Prosecutor


Free Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar

By 

Published: April 18, 2013. sikhsiyasat.com
    • New Delhi, India (April 18, 2013): It is a known fact that Prof. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar was sentenced to death by the trial court solely on the basis of a fractured and uncorroborated confessional statement extracted by the Delhi police in custody through torture. Prof. Bhullar’s case was heard by three judges bench of the Supreme Court of India, that confirmed the conviction in a split decision – with majority of 2:1.

Free Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar

Free Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar

Justice M. B. Shah – the presiding judge of the three judges bench had acquitted Prof. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar; while two other judges Arijit Pasyat, J. and Aggarwal, J. had confirmed the death sentence.

The 2002 decision of the Supreme Court of India, confirming death punishment in a split decision was being view as a “judicial error” – and it was expected that the President of India would take it’s notice while deciding the constitutional review petition. The President of India took eight years to decide the petition moved on behalf of Prof. Bhullar but suffered the failure to take notice of the judicial error and cleared the execution of Prof. Bhullar in 2011.

In it’s recent judgement declared on April 12, 2013 the Supreme Court of India has again upheld the death sentence awarded to Prof. Bhullar.

It seems as if whole Indian system has turned blind eye towards the “judicial error” committed in this case. But there are few dissenting voices also that have dared to oppose the ominous unity among various organs of the state favouring execution of Prof. Bhullar.

Recently, the Press Council of India’s chairman Justice Markandey Katju wrote a detailed letter to the President of India. Citing the basic flaws in the decision confirming death sentence in Prof. Bhullar’s case; J. Katju has demanded pardon for Prof. Bhullar.

As per recent media reports Senior Advocate Anoop G. Chaudhari, who was the public prosecutor against Prof. Bhullar while his case was being heard by the SCI in 2002, has admitted that the minority judgement of Justice M. B. Shah acquitting Prof. Bhulalr was good in merit.

According to a news report by Times of India:

“[t]hough two of the three judges on the Supreme Court bench upheld his arguments, senior advocate Anoop G. Chaudhari said that he found himself agreeing with the dissenting verdict delivered by the presiding judge, M. B. Shah, who had actually acquitted Bhullar”.

“Surprising as it may sound, I believe that Shah was right in not accepting my submissions in support of the trial court’s decision to convict Bhullar in a terror case, entirely on the basis of his confessional statement to the police,” Chaudhari reportedly told TOI.

“Shah refused to acquiesce to the Delhi police’s presumption that they had a lot of margin for shoddy investigation because of the involvement of terror”

– Advocate Anoop G. Chaudhari

As per news report, a former advocate general of Madhya Pradesh, Chaudhari also said that it was “most inappropriate” for the majority verdict, delivered by Justice Arijit Pasayat, to have awarded death sentence to Bhullar despite the acquittal by a member of the same bench.

In any event, this “judicial error”, he said, should have been taken by the home ministry as a “strong ground” for commuting the death penalty, when it made its recommendation to the President on Bhullar’s mercy petition in 2011.

“Did the home ministry think that the acquittal by a Supreme Court judge was meaningless?” Chaudhari asked.

But how could he be saying all these things in Bhullar’s favour, given his own role in the case? “After the judgement is delivered, I read it as a student of law and not a lawyer who appeared for one or the other party,” Chaudhari said.

“If I can’t detach myself from the case and appreciate the judgement in its correct perspective, then I won’t be honest to my profession and my conscience”, he reportedly added.

One of the major infirmities in the prosecution’s case pointed out by Shah was the failure of the police to find any corroboration for Bhullar’s confessional statement to them, even he had retracted it.

“When Shah asked me about this lacuna during the hearings, I said that I could only argue what was on record and I could not step into the shoes of the investigating agency and explain why they had not taken the trouble of finding any corroborative evidence” Chaudhari said.

 

 

Statement- Commute DS Bhullar’s Death Sentence


Abolish Death Penalty

The Supreme Court verdict rejecting the plea for commutation of death sentence for DS Bhullar is most unfortunate. The case against DS Bhullar rested almost wholly on custodial confession. In 2002, when the majority bench of the SC upheld the death penalty for him, Justice Shah in his minority judgement had actually argued for acquittal, on the grounds that custodial confession was inadmissible as evidence. In a case where even guilt is in such doubt, there can be no justification for the death penalty.

In the past the Supreme Court has held that long delay in carrying out the sentence could be grounds for commutation of the sentence of death into life imprisonment. However, the Supreme Court this time has held otherwise. In doing so, the apex court, instead of judging the matter on the grounds of principles of justice, has instead invoked the growth of terrorism “in recent years.” How can a matter of principle be subject to change on the grounds of subjective opinions and assertions of judges?

The SC has also chosen to make comments against human rights activists, accusing them of raising “the bogey of human rights.” In the case of Bhullar, it was a judge of the Supreme Court, not a human rights activist, who had called even his conviction into doubt on the grounds of insufficient evidence! If the Supreme Court considers ‘human rights’ as a ‘bogey’, which institution is there to check the state from riding roughshod on human rights?

Last year, 14 retired judges wrote to the President of India, admitting that the Supreme Court had wrongly awarded the death sentence to 13 people. It is unacceptable in a democracy to risk such grave miscarriage of justice. Moreover, it is overwhelmingly those from marginalised sections of society who face the death penalty: offenders from privileged sections are rarely subjected to such punishment.

In the interests of justice, CPI(ML) demands that DS Bhullar’s sentence should be commuted. In the light of the inconsistency and bias in awarding of death sentence and grave errors in this regard admitted by retired judges of the Supreme Court, CPI(ML) supports the growing demand that India abolish the death penalty or at least honour the UN resolution to uphold a moratorium on death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition.  

CPI(ML) Central Committee

 

 

 

CRPP Statement of on Death Sentence to Bhullar


Committe for Release of Political Prisoners

That the conviction of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar was solely based on a confession statement attributed to him which he had denied in the court makes the decision even more regressive thus exposing even the fallacious claims of the SC that capital punishment should only be given in the ‘rarest of rare’ cases. Significantly, when Mr. Bhullar was being extradited from Germany it was assured by the Government of India that he won’t be condemned to death.
It was in 2001 that Bhullar was sentenced to death by the trial court. He has been in prison since 1995 after his extradition. Thus, Bhullar has already spent more than eighteen years in prison, which is longer than a life term. Thus, by refusing to consider the inordinate delay as a reason for the commutation of death sentence, the Supreme Court is violating the Fundamental Right guaranteed by Article 20(2), that no person shall be punished twice for the same offence.
The ten-year long delay in disposing the mercy petition by the President of India was the ground on which Bhullar had sought commutation of his death penalty as it was a blatant violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India while at the same inflicting further pain and cruelty on him through the prolonged incarceration after the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.
As in effect, Bhullar has already served a life term and is now on death row. What is even more alarming is that there are seventeen convicts on death row and the rejection of Bhullar’s plea is going to have an adverse effect on all these seventeen cases. The Indian ruling classes and their politics of jingoism and hate is definitely on the slippery slope heading for an orgy of judicial executions, which was triggered by the secret executions of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru.
Similar to the case of Afzal Guru, the conviction of Bhullar is also on shallow grounds. Bhullar was convicted under the draconian TADA. On appeal, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the TADA Court under a split verdict of 2 to 1. The presiding judge Justice MB Shah had acquitted Bhullar of all charges under TADA. His confession, which was found to be concocted, was also rejected as it was at odds with the testimony of the prosecution witnesses. Thus, the split verdict should have been a good reason for the President to accept the mercy petition and for the Supreme Court to commute death to life. However, it was rejected in 2011 on a completely arbitrary basis eight years after it was filed. The prolonged incarceration had its toll on the health of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar as he was undergoing treatment for mental illness. Needless to say that to hang someone who is mentally ill speaks more about the overall depredation of the ruling classes of India to the vast sections of the toiling masses.
It is with intrigue one would look into the contradicting positions taken by the Supreme Court vis-à-vis its stand on death sentence. Just a week after the Supreme Court had stayed temporarily the death sentence of 8 people another bench of the same court has rejected the plea of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar to commute his death sentence to life. A few months before the SC had in retrospect observed that Capital Punishment can only be given in the rarest of rare cases after making it doubly sure that the evidence provided in reaching the conclusion that the said case is the rarest of the rare should be impeccable while ensuring that the law has been upheld in reaching the above said conclusion. This introspection had also brought forth the glaring facts that in ninety nine percent of the cases of award of death sentence there was a terrible miscarriage of justice. While staying the death sentence of 8 people temporarily on the first week of April 2013 the SC had observed the need to follow procedures while executing the death sentence thus partially admitting the glaring anomalies in the ‘secret’ hanging to death of Mohd. Afzal Guru.
It is well established that death penalty – being neither a deterrent nor reformatory in nature- serves no cause other than that of retributive justice. Most civilized countries (more than 140) have banned death penalty. Even though the Supreme Court of India has enunciated the jurisprudence of the “rarest of the rare”, the hard reality is that the Indian Courts have awarded death penalty at the rate of 133 per year over the last ten years. So the rarest of the rare cases are decided by the Indian courts once in every three days!
In the seventy page judgement rejecting the plea to commute the death penalty given to Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, the Supreme Court bench quotes generously from the 35th Report of the Law Commission as it states “…Having regard, however, to the conditions in India, to the variety of the social upbringing of its inhabitants, to the disparity in the level of morality and education in the country, to the vastness of its area, to diversity of its population and to the paramount need for maintaining law and order in the country at the present juncture, India cannot risk the experiment of abolition of capital punishment.” [p-3] This above mentioned quote selected by the bench from the Law Commission Report explains the Court’s burden of civilizing the inhabitants in the vastness of the subcontinent through the instrument of death penalty! And this colonial mindset also explains considerably why the rhetoric of rarest of the rare has metamorphosed to be the common thing in the practice of jurisprudence in India.
As long as the lived reality of inequality endures in the Indian subcontinent through the systematic dog-eat-dog policies of various governments, such a reality may be weighed against the consequences its legal system evokes in the name of its people’s. If the Indian state continues to embrace [capital punishment] in the name of retributive or utilitarian values, then inequality remains not just a “tolerable” value for the government and the policy makers who vouches unabashedly by a system based on greed and unrequited accumulation especially in the era of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation. Inequality remains a value that is acted upon and thus preserved inextricably through the state’s persistent willingness to use the punishment of death.
We condemn strongly the act of the Indian state to enforce violence on people through the instrument of death penalty! Without a strong upsurge of the people against such draconian and barbaric instruments of violence of the State we will be condemned to be at the receiving end of a penal state that is increasingly becoming fascist. We demand that the DEATH SENTENCENCE ON DAVINDER PAL SINGH BHULLAR BE IMMEDIATELY REVOKED!
In Solidarity,
SAR Geelani
President

Amit Bhattacharyya
Secretary General

P. Koya
Vice President

MN Ravunni
Vice President

Rona Wilson
Secretary, Public Relations

 

PRESS RELEASE- PUDR on Rejection of Devinder Pal Bhullar’s plea by the Supreme Court


Peoples’ Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR)

Date: 12 Apr. 2013,

Press Statement

Re: Rejection of Devinder Pal Bhullar’s plea by the Supreme Court

 

PUDR strongly denounces the Supreme Court’s dismissal this morning of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s plea for commutation of the death sentence awarded to him to life. The issues at stake in this dismissal are multiple, that of clemency, death penalty, miscarriage of justice and precedence.

Bhullar was sentenced to death in 2003 for carrying out a bomb blast outside the Delhi Youth Congress office which killed nine people in 1993. He has been deemed mentally unstable. The High Court’s decision of upholding the death sentence was not a unanimous decision. After he was given the death sentence by the Supreme Court, he appealed to the then President of India for clemency in 2003. The President, after a lapse of over eight years, dismissed his mercy plea in 2011. Bhullar had sought commutation of his death penalty to life sentence by the Supreme Court on the ground that there was inordinate delay by the President over his plea for clemency.

The principle of jurisprudence lays down that a person cannot be punished twice for the same crime. Bhullar has already served 12 years in jail and now the consequent execution would strictly violate this principle of jurisprudence. Prolonged incarceration of a death row convict awaiting his execution qualifies as cruelty and violates Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Ideally there should have been a norm governing the delay in judicial processes and the relief granted thereof. In some instances, convicts have received relief for delays of 2 years, two and a half years, etc.In  T.V.Vatheeswaran vs. State of Tamil Nadu (1983) 2 SCC 68 and Ediga Anamma vs. State of Andhra Pradesh (1974) 4 SCC 443 it has been held that a delay of two years was permissible beyond which the sentence ought to be converted to life.  In Bhagwan Bux Singh & Anr. vs. The State of U.P. (1978) 1 SCC 214 similar observations were made with respect to a delay of two and a half years and in Sadhu Singh vs. State of U.P. (1978) 4 SCC 428 to a delay of three and a half years. Whereas, in the present instance, even if the delay in handing over the penalty (rejection of clemency) is 12 years, the convict is not entitled for any relief.

It is appalling to note that Supreme Court in its rejection of mercy plea has disregarded the mental health of Bhullar. Awarding death penalty to a person mentally unstable is a crime against humanity. The Supreme Court order hence stands as a serious miscarriage of justice and also dangerously escalates the possibility of such unjust judicial trends becoming the norm. On 6 April 2013, the Supreme Court in a progressive move ordered a temporary stay on the execution of 8 convicts on death row. Not just the apprehension of the present order in case of Bhullar affecting the fate of other prisoners of death row is daunting; equally alarming is the ambiguous position of Supreme Court on death penalty vacillating between two positions, one of relief due to delay in the delivery process and the other of no relief for the same.

In a democracy that guarantees the right to life as a fundamental life, death penalty should find no rationale. In fact, the state should see the execution of someone in its custody abhorrent. Death penalty is an act of retribution and presents the state as an arbiter of retributive justice. The very notion of justice is lost in the act of taking away a life to avenge the loss of another life. PUDR sees death penalty as a form of state violence and an escalator of a culture of hate. It infuses a sense of vengeance in society and reinforces the cycle of violence.

PUDR, while condemning the dismissal of the SC order, reiterates the dangers of having death penalty as sanctioned form of punishment and puts forward a demand for total abolition of the death penalty.

 

 

D. Manjit, Asish Gupta

Secretaries, PUDR

 

#India – Suprme Court rejects Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s appeal #deathpenalty


Supreme Court verdict could impact other death row prisoners

death-penalty
Reported by A Vaidyanathan, Ketki Angre, Edited by Surabhi Malik | Updated: April 12, 2013

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court has ruled that a death sentence cannot be commuted to life imprisonment because of a delay in execution.

The court has rejected an appeal by Devinderpal Singh Bhullar against his hanging, and could impact the cases of 16 other prisoners on death row who have pleaded against their punishment.

Bhullar had appealed against his execution on the grounds that his petition for mercy was kept pending by the President of the country for eight years. He was given the death sentence for killing nine people with a car bomb in Delhi in 1993.

Bhullar’s wife was in court when the verdict against him was announced. “The court didn’t consider our points,” she said.  Bhullar’s family and friends say that his time in prison has affected his mental health.

Activists and lawyers for Bhullar and other prisoners have said that inordinate delays in deciding requests for clemency amount to cruelty and violate the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In Tamil Nadu, today’s verdict will be  carefully assessed to determine the potential fallout on the case of  three men who have spent 22 years in a jail in Tamil Nadu for their role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Their appeal for clemency was rejected after 11 years in August 2011.  All parties in the state have passed a resolution stating that they should not hang.

Human rights groups have been critical of India for executing two prisoners in the last few months. Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was hanged in November 2012 in Pune for his role in the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. In February, Afzal Guru was hanged in Delhi; he had been convicted of assisting in the attack on Parliament in 2001. His family was informed of his execution two days after he was buried at Tihar Jail.

 

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