The tough stand taken by the BJP on hanging convicts found guilty of involvement in terror attacks by courts has failed to impress its veteran MP and noted jurist Ram Jethmalani.
Shortly after he argued against carrying out the death sentence on one of three accused in the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Jethmalani has opposed the hanging of 1993 Delhi bomb blast case death row convict Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar.
In a legal opinion sought by Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, Jethmalani stated that “Bhullar deserves commutation on the basis of the facts” of his case. This view contradicts the BJP's position that “there can be no clemency to convicts in terror cases sentenced to death by courts.”
Bhullar was sentenced to death by a special court in 2001 for his involvement in the 1993 car bomb blast outside the Youth Congress office in the Capital. Nine persons were killed in the blast and 30 injured.
The Supreme Court had confirmed his death sentence in 2002, and Bhullar has been in solitary confinement since then. The Supreme Court is currently hearing his petition, seeking commutation of the death penalty on the grounds of nine years' delay.
In his opinion, Jethmalani has pointed out that Germany had deported Bhullar in 1995 under the impression that he would not be tried for offences punishable with a death sentence in India.
“In my opinion Bhullar deserves the commutation particularly when he was deported from Germany and the Germans have abolished the death penalty and would probably have refused deportation if they had realized that the sentence of death could follow,” the former law minister wrote.
Bhullar's mercy petition which was pending since 2003, was rejected by the President in May this year.
Referring to Bhullar's condition, he said:”A sentence of death cannot be converted into a bigger punishment by the torture which the convict inevitably goes through during the time he is waiting for his mercy petition to be disposed of.”