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Apr 12, 2013 at 09:38pm IST

SC decision on Bhullar a setback for 17 others on death row as well

New Delhi: No relief for Khalistani terrorist Devender Pal Singh Bhullar. But the Supreme Court decision spells disappointment for others on death row too. The apex court on Friday rejected the mercy petition of Bhullar, who had sought commutation of his death penalty to life sentence on the ground that there was inordinate delay by the President over his plea for clemency.

The big question is that will this verdict pave the way for the execution of convicts in the two major high profile cases - three assassins of Rajiv Gandhi and four associates of Veerappan.

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Lawyer for Rajiv Gandhi's assassins M Radhakrishnan said, "In Bhullar's case, this is a big disappointment for us. I think the SC has been very harsh towards this death convict. All the three death convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case would be shocked to hear this judgement."

In both Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and the trial involving Veerappan's associates, the President had rejected their mercy pleas. He has also rejected the pleas of 10 others on death row.

Taking a cue from Bhullar's petition in 2011, they had appealed in court, demanding leniency on the same grounds as Bhullar. But with this verdict their petitions may be rejected too.

Lawyer Nandakumar said, "Judgment delivered today will be applicable on Rajiv Gandhi case and Veerappan case as well." Legal options for Bhullar are all but over the only resort to go for a curative petition but the verdict is unlikely to change. The question now is will this landmark judgement hasten the execution of those on death row?