Supreme Court to hear petitions of Bhullar, his wife on October 19
New Delhi, 28 September 2011. The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to explain why it took eight years for the President to dispose of the mercy petition filed by convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, which sought a commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya asked Additional Solicitor-General Harin Raval, appearing for the Union Home Ministry, to file the affidavit by October 10 and fixed October 19 for further hearing the petitions filed by Bhullar and his wife Navneeth Kaur.
Senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for the petitioners, said the Delhi government’s affidavit in response to the notice issued in May was very vague. It was silent on the query about the reason behind the delay.
Mr. Tulsi said the convict had been in the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences since December last.
Justice Singhvi told Mr. Raval: “It seems the North Capital Territory of Delhi has forwarded the mercy petition to the Union Home Ministry in 2003. What happened between 2003 and 2011? Anybody will be anxious to know that. We cannot close our eyes altogether and pass an order without going into the reasons. Unfortunately, we have not stopped reading newspapers, which talked about the pendency of mercy petitions of 20 people sentenced to death. Some of them are getting support from certain sections of society and some are represented. We are concerned with some others not having any godfather, how to deal with them.”
Justice Singhvi said: “One way is to decide the cases strictly on Constitutional and legal issues, uninfluenced by other issues. But at a time when many people are facing the gallows, these issues become relevant. But ultimately, it is left to the court.”
When the court’s May notice to the Centre on the mercy petition was rejected by the President, Bhullar’s wife Navneeth Kaur filed another writ petition, and both these were being heard together. Bhullar was sentenced to death by a designated TADA court on August 25, 2001, for his role in the bomb blast in Delhi on September 10, 1993, which targeted a cavalcade of cars carrying the then All-India Youth Congress president, Maninderjit Singh Bitta.
While Mr. Bitta escaped with serious injuries, nine security personnel were killed.
Ms. Navneeth Kaur said the prolonged delay was a dehumanising act and amounted to depriving a person of his life in an unjust, unfair and unreasonable way, thus, violating Article 21 of the Constitution.