SC to hear Bhullar’s plea on Jan 28

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on January 28 hear Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s plea for revisiting the April 12, 2013 Supreme Court judgment refusing to commute his death sentence.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam agreed to take up the plea after senior advocate KTS Tulsi sought an early hearing following the court’s ruling this week that even terrorists were entitled to commutation on account of mental instability or unreasonable and unexplained delay in the rejection of their mercy petitions.

Tulsi said there was a delay of more than eight years in the rejection of his client’s mercy petition. Medical examinations had shown that he was suffering from mental illness. The Bench said it would have to issue notice to the government seeking its response before deciding on his plea.

The Supreme Court ruling on commutation had come on petitions filed by 15 death row convicts citing delays in some cases and mental status in others.

The court reduced the sentence to life term for all of them. In doing so, the three-member Bench had specifically gone into Bhullar’s case and held that the 2013 verdict was bad in law as it had created a distinction between terrorists and other death row convicts.

All those sentenced to death were on the same footing as the criterion for awarding capital punishment was the same in all such cases — rarest of the rare — it had explained.

The apex court has already rejected Bhullar’s review petition against the 2013 verdict. What is pending in the Supreme Court is his curative plea for removing the defects in the judgment, the final legal remedy for getting the death penalty reversed.

A trial court in Delhi had sentenced Bhullar to death in August 2001 for his role in the 1993 bomb attack on Youth Congress president MS Bitta in which nine security personnel were killed and 17, including Bitta, were injured.

Source: The Tribune

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