Inordinate delay may be a good ground for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment but it cannot be invoked in cases where a person is convicted of terror crimes, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
“It is paradoxical that the people who do not show any mercy or compassion for others plead for mercy and project delay in disposal of the petition filed under Article 72 or 161 of the Constitution as a ground for commutation of the sentence of death,” a bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice SJ Mukopadhyaya, which dismissed convicted Khalistani terrorist Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s petition against rejection of his mercy plea by the President, said.
It was also critical of those who make representations on behalf of such convicts for clemency.
“Many others join the bandwagon to espouse the cause of terrorists involved in gruesome killing and mass murder of innocent civilians and raise the bogey of human rights,” the bench said in its 70-page judgment.
The verdict is likely to trigger a fresh debate on death penalty in India as the SC simply appears to be unforgiving in terror cases.
Cases of terror attacks stood on an altogether different footing and could not be compared with murders committed due to personal animosity or over property and personal disputes, it said.
“The monster of terrorism has spread its tentacles in most of the countries. India is one of the worst victims of internal and external terrorism.
"In the last three decades, hundreds of innocent lives have been lost on account of the activities of terrorists, who have mercilessly killed people by using bullets, bombs and other modern weapons,” the bench stated.
Terrorists, it held, did not show respect for human lives and before killing the victims never thought of their family members.