There seems to be hope for Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar facing death sentence for his involvement in a terror attack 21 years ago.
The Centre on Wednesday said it was considering death row convict Bhullar's fresh mercy petition filed after the Supreme Court in December last had dismissed his plea to commute his sentence to life as there was inordinate delay in deciding his earlier mercy plea.
In a submission before a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Attorney General GE Vahanvati said the government was likely to take a decision on Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar's request on medical ground. Until then, he said, Bhullar would not be hanged.
The court gave the Centre two weeks' time to take a decision, saying "delay of every day is a torture for the convict".
A five-judge bench headed by the CJI is hearing the curative petition filed by Bhullar's wife, asking the court to reconsider its decision of not sparing him from hanging.
The Supreme Court is hearing Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar case in the backdrop of a recent judgment where the CJI has held that death sentence can be commuted to life if there is inordinate delay in deciding a convict's mercy plea. Medical conditions and solitary confinement of a convict, too, were framed as reasons to commute death to life.
It even overruled the judgment delivered in Bhullar's case - where the court had refused to show mercy on the ground that he committed a terror crime - saying there cannot be distinction between terror and non-terror cases while giving relief to convicts on account of delay in their execution.
Even Delhi's Lieutenant Governor has recommended that Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar not be hanged on humanitarian grounds. In his report forwarded to the President, the LG has said that the fresh mercy petition, filed by his wife, cannot be rejected.
Bhullar's wife has submitted that her husband is not mentally fit and he is being treated by Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences.
Bhullar's first mercy petition was dismissed by the President in May 2011, eight years after it was filed. The SC had upheld his death sentence in March 2002.