R Sedhuraman, Legal Correspondent
New Delhi, March 29. The Centre today pleaded with the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, sentenced to death for the 1993 assassination attempt on then Youth Congress chief MS Bitta, contending that the court had no Constitutional mandate to sit in judgment over the President’s refusal to grant pardon.
During his daylong arguments before a Bench comprising of Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukho-padhaya, Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval quoted a judgment of a Constitution Bench to aver that the role of the apex court had ended with the rejection of Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence. The President, after a lapse of over eight years, dismissed Bhullar’s mercy plea on May 25 last year.
Anyone who had exhausted his legal and Constitutional options of appeal and review in the Supreme Court and the mercy plea to the President had no right to come back to the apex court seeking commutation of the death penalty to that of life term on the ground of delay by Rashtrapati Bhavan in rejecting his clemency plea, the Additional Solicitor General argued.
On the pleas of Bhullar’s wife Navneet Kaur and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee (DSGMC) that the convict should not be hanged in view of his mental status, Raval said what mattered the most was his mental health at the time of committing the crime and not at the time of execution. Bhullar is undergoing treatment at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) here for hypertension, psychiatric illness and suicidal tendencies.
Concluding his arguments that lasted two days, the Additional Solicitor General quoted several apex court judgments to drive home his point that persons involved in such terrorist activities did not deserve leniency.
Bhullar’s senior counsel KTS Tulsi will argue tomorrow.
What the Centre said
The apex court has no Constitutional mandate to sit in judgment over the President’s refusal to grant pardon
The role of the court ended with the rejection of Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence
Persons involved in terrorist activities (like Bhullar) did not deserve leniency