New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the mercy petition of Devinder Pal Singh 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 court said that delay cannot be a ground for commuting death sentence to a life term. Bhullar was sentenced to death in 2003 for carrying out a bomb blast outside the Delhi Youth Congress office in 1993 that left nine people dead.
The court observed that the petitioner could not make out a case for commuting his death penalty. "The Supreme Court should have considered our plea," Bhullar's wife said reacting to the verdict.
Bhullar had also sought mercy on grounds that he has been mentally unfit for the past 11 years. "If someone is mentally sick that person cannot be executed, we will have to go through the judgement," lawyer Majid Memon said.
Former chief of the Indian Youth Congress MS Bitta, who is now the chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, said the judgement was not expected. "I was not expecting this judgement, Sheila Dikshit declared Bhullar a mentally sick person. It's a crucial judgement," Bitta said. However, he added, "This is justice for those who died in that blast."
Bhullar had approached the Supreme Court in 2011, saying that his death sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment, because there was an inordinate delay by the President over his plea for clemency. His mercy petition was pending for 8 years.
Bhullar had filed his original mercy plea to commute the sentence to life imprisonment in 2003. It was rejected in 2011, a week after he approached the Supreme Court.
The apex court's verdict paves way for the execution of others on death row like the Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts. The lawyer of Nalini, one of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, expressed disappointment on the court's order. "The order of the Supreme Court is disappointing, it has not taken in consideration the ground realities in the country," lawyer S Doraiswamy said.