The Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar to the life imprisonment on 31 March 2014 on the basis of a curative petition. Mental illness and inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition were the main reasons behind this decision. The landmark judgment of the apex court on 21 January also played a crucial role in the entire case.
The Supreme Court gave a verdict on 21 January 2014 that inordinate and inexplicable delay by the government in deciding mercy petitions can be a ground for commutation of death sentence as this delay can have a dehumanizing effect on the death convict.
The Centre while admitting the delay in deciding his mercy petition, informed the Supreme Court on 27 March 2014 that it has no problem with the commutation of death sentence of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar.
Khalistani terrorist Devinder Singh Bhullar was awarded death sentence for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi in 1993. 9 persons were killed and 25 persons were injured in the blast.
The Supreme Court rejected his appeal on 26 March 2002 against death sentence which was awarded to him by a trial court and endorsed by the Delhi High Court. The Apex court also dismissed his review petition and a curative petition. Bhullar filed a mercy petition on 14 January 2003 to the President. The president rejected his petition on 14 May 2011. Citing the delay of 8 years in taking a decision, he again filed a petition for commutation of his death sentence to the Supreme Court. This petition was rejected.
However, on the basis of the Supreme Court’s verdict on 21 January 2014, a bench of Supreme Court stayed the Bhullar’s execution and had agreed to relook into its earlier judgment of rejecting the plea of commutating the death sentence.
When: 31 March 2014