Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bhullar death plea delay

The Supreme Court on Wednesday took note of the legislative clamour to appeal for clemency to condemned prisoners in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and Afzal Guru and wondered what happens to the cases of other convicts facing death penalty who have not been able to garner such support.
Hearing the petition filed by condemned prisoner Devender Pal Singh Bhullar
challenging the eight-year delay on the Centre's part to decide his mercy plea, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said such petitions should be decided looking into constitutional issues. “But, we see that there are 20-odd people facing death penalty. Some have got backing from some quarter. Should it depend on which quarter they get the backing from? What about the rest of the condemned prisoners who have got no backing from any quarter,” the bench asked.
First it was the Tamil Nadu assembly which passed a resolution seeking commutation of death penalty to Rajiv assassination convicts Santhan, Arivu and Perarivalan. A similar resolution favouring life sentence to Afzal Guru, who was awarded death penalty in the Parliament attack case, was to be debated in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly on Wednesday but the House was adjourned amidst pandemonium.
The apex court asked the Union government to file an affidavit by October 10 explaining the reasons for the delay in deciding the mercy plea of Khalistan Liberation Front militant Bhullar, who was sentenced to death for the 1983 bomb blast in Delhi. The case would now be heard on October 19.
President Pratibha Patil, on the advice of the UPA government, had rejected Bhullar's mercy plea on May 24, a day after he had approached the SC seeking commutation of death sentence on grounds of delay.

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