The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear Devender Pal Singh Bhullar's amended petition contending cases of death penalty should be heard by a Constitution bench.
A bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice HL Dattu permitted Bhullar to amend his petition and also allowed him to raise another ground stating that the SC judgment sentencing him to death was a split verdict. It directed the Delhi government to file a response to Bhullar's amended petition within two weeks. Bhullar has moved the SC challenging President Pratibha Singh Patil's decision to reject his mercy petition.
Senior counsel KTS Tulsi contended before the bench that the penalty was not justified as the one of the members of the three-judge bench had acquitted him. Tulsi claimed death can be given in rarest of the rare cases, which means there should not be even one percent doubt. However, if one of the three judges acquits an accused, it means there is 33% doubt and nature of a death sentence is irreversible.
The apex court had on March 12, 2003 dismissed Bhullar's appeal challenging the death sentence imposed on him by a special TADA court for his role in the September 10, 1993 bomb blast in Delhi.
He was accused of targeting the cavalcade of then All India Youth Congress president MS Bitta who escaped the incident with serious injuries. Nine security personnel were killed during the blast.
On March 12, 2003 his review as well as curative against SC verdict holding him guilty was dismissed.
Bhullar's mercy petition seeking pardon was rejected on May 26 this year. The President dismissed it eight years after it was filed.
Bhullar and his wife have moved two separate petitions challenging the President's decision on the ground of inordinate delay. His wife has claimed Bhullar is mentally unfit and has developed suicidal tendencies.