The mysterious silence of death row convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar at the Frankfurt airport 18 years ago may finally take him to the gallows.
His accomplice in the same case, however, escaped any punishment since the United States extradited him to India on the condition that he would not be punished with death penalty.
Bhullar, a mechanical engineer, was named as the main accused in the September 1993 bomb blast outside the Youth Congress office in the capital, but he managed to reach Germany on a fake passport in December 1994.
He was detained at the Frankfurt airport for travelling on fake documents and spent a year in jail in Germany.
Bhullar’s lawyers insist he had sought political asylum there, but the European Union, in a letter to the Indian government after former President Pratibha Patil had rejected his mercy petition in May 2011, stated that his “deportation was erroneous since facts about him were not known to the authorities”.
Bhullar was arrested on his return to the capital in January 1995, but two years later, a Frankfurt court in October 1997 declared his deportation by Germany as “illegal.” The ruling came on a petition filed by an NGO and some Sikhs residing there.
An official court ruling by the administrative court of Frankfurt held that the deportation order of 1995 was unlawful, because Bhullar was “indeed facing the threat of torture and death penalty in India”, but this fact was not revealed by anyone at the time of sending him back.
Under the German law, no person can be deported if he faces torture or death penalty in the country where he is to be sent, irrespective of the charges against him.