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Bhullar cries foul in mercy plea

A review mercy petition filed on Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar's behalf said that a co-accused in the 1993 blast case, extradited by the US, was acquitted but Bhullar was sentenced to death in the same case. Nagendar Sharma reports. Timeline

delhi Updated: Jul 05, 2011 01:38 IST
Nagendar Sharma

A review mercy petition filed on Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar's behalf said that a co-accused in the 1993 blast case, extradited by the US, was acquitted but Bhullar was sentenced to death in the same case. The co-accused was extradited on the condition that he would not be charged with any offence punishable with death.

The review petition filed before President Pratibha Patil has also charged that facts about death row convict Bhullar's unstable mental condition were not placed in the petition before her, which was rejected in May.

The review mercy petition, filed by a Chandigarh-based organisation - Lawyers for Human Rights International, has questioned the application of different yardsticks for the accused in the same case. Apart from Bhullar, Daya Singh Lahoria and two other persons were named in the 1993 car bomb blast case in which nine people were killed and 30 injured.

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"Bhullar was convicted on the sole basis of his confession before the police, which was admissible as evidence under the then special Terrorist & Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA) law, whereas his co-accused, Lahoria, was acquitted by the trial court," states the review petition.

"Lahoria was acquitted for the lack of evidence, since the confessional statement could not be read against him, since he was extradited to United States and the authorities there at that time had obtained an undertaking from India that he would not be tried under TADA," the petition pointed out.

It is extremely surprising that Lahoria was tried only under the offences mentioned in the Indian Penal Code, under which the confession made before the police is not admissible under law. "So, Lahoria was acquitted on the same charges, in the same trial, whereas Bhullar was convicted," the petition stated.

It has also been pointed out that the Supreme Court had upheld Bhullar's death sentence in 2002, and during the last nine years, he has been living in solitary confinement and according to his medical reports, has been suffering from depression since the last six years.

He is currently admitted in a mental hospital in Delhi and is under acute depression. A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking conversion of his death penalty into life imprisonment.

"The President was not made aware of the mental state of Bhullar and it would be inhumane to order hanging of a individual who has suffered 16 year's incarceration, out of which 10 years are in solitary confinement," the petition concluded.