The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Delhi government on a petition filed by death row convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar for reducing his sentence to life term as his mercy plea has not been decided by the President since December 2002.
A special TADA court had sentenced Bhullar, a Punjab militant, to death on August 25, 2001 for his role in the September 10, 1993 bomb blast in Delhi targeting the then Youth Congress president MS Bitta. Nine persons had died and several others, including Bitta were serious injured in the incident.
The SC has already dismissed his appeal, review and curative petitions. And his mercy petition filed on December 19, 2002 is still pending.
A vacation bench headed by justice GS Singhvi directed the Delhi government to respond to Bhullar's petition in six weeks after senior counsel KTS Tulsi cited an SC verdict according to which inordinate delay in deciding a mercy plea was a ground for commuting a death sentence to a life imprisonment.
He said it was a torturous wait for the convict, who is now suffering from depression, blood pressure, arthritis and cervical; and has developed suicidal tendencies.
There are about 30 mercy petitions of death row convicts, including the one filed by 2001 Parliament attack case convict Md Afzal, pending before the President. The BJP has been demanding execution of Afzal while the Congress maintains that the government can not jump the queue.
But the SC has not been silent on the issue. "The condemned prisoner and his suffering relatives have … a very pertinent right in insisting that a decision in the matter be taken within a reasonable time, failing which the power should be exercised in favour of the prisoner," it said in 2009.
The SC had told the government its failure in taking timely decisions amounted to a violation of condemned prisoners' right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.
On Sept 10, 1993, a bomb exploded in Delhi targeting the then Youth Congress president MS Bitta
Nine persons died and several others, including Bitta were injured in the incident.
On Aug 25, 2001, a special TADA court sentenced Bhullar, a Punjab militant, to death.
On Dec 19, 2002, Bhullar filed a mercy plea