The Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday that delays in execution were grounds to change death sentences to life imprisonment is expected to affect the case of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who’s on death row for a New Delhi car bombing that killed nine people in 1993.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court commuted the sentences of 15 death row convicts, ruling that delays in their execution were grounds to change their sentences to life imprisonment. “Delay is a grounds for commuting death penalty to life sentence,” read a ruling from a three-judge panel headed by Chief Justice Palanisamy Sathasivam, which said mental illness and solitary confinement could also be reasons for commuting sentences.
Fifteen people had challenged their death sentences due to the time taken for the President to answer their mercy petitions. In April 2013, Bhullar’s appeal to the court for clemency on the grounds of mental illness and delays was rejected. Courts hand down the death sentence for the "rarest of rare" crime. Until November 2012, no execution had been carried out in the country for eight years.
In February 2013, it executed Mohammed Afzal Guru, who was convicted of involvement in the 2001 attack on Parliament. The judgement will affect more than 400 convicts languishing on death row in India and will place more stringent conditions on the use of the death penalty.