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‘No death sentence’ was the key

The government’s assurance to Italy that its two marines will not be punished with death penalty is based on precedents adopted by successive regimes at the Centre in at least three similar cases, to adhere to international treaties and conventions, writes Nagendar Sharma.

delhi Updated: Mar 25, 2013 02:11 IST
Nagendar Sharma

The government’s assurance to Italy that its two marines will not be punished with death penalty is based on precedents adopted by successive regimes at the Centre in at least three similar cases, to adhere to international treaties and conventions.

The case which generated maximum controversy was that of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts accused Abu Salem, who was brought to India from Portugal in 2005 following years of negotiations, including an assurance from the previous NDA government that he will not be sentenced to death.

After a seven year-old court battle, which included courts in Portugal revoking his extradition and Indian courts sticking to their stand that governments had no power to give such undertakings, the Delhi HC last year allowed the CBI to drop charges punishable with death sentence.

There have been cases like that of Denmark citizen Kim Davy, an accused in the Purulia arms drop case, the struggle for whose extradition has been continuing for the last 18 years since the Danish courts have cited the fear of death penalty as a reason for not sending him to face a trial.

The third case in which death sentence became a bone of contention is that of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who was sentenced to death for the 1993 car bomb blast in the capital in which nine people were killed and 30 injured.

Bhullar was deported from Germany for travelling on a fake passport and on his arrival in the capital, he was arrested and booked under the TADA.

Germany later lodged an official protest with India, since Bhullar’s co-accused Daya Singh Lahoria was extradited by the US following an undertaking by the Indian government that he would not be charged with any offence punishable with death.