Shiromani Akali Dal MPs and ministers led by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday met President Pranab Mukherjee and demanded that Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, awarded death sentence in the 1993 Delhi blast case, be pardoned.
After meeting Mukherjee, Badal told reporters here that the SAD delegation requested the President to pardon Bhullar for the sake of "hard-earned communal harmony and peace in Punjab and the rest of India".
SAD maintains that this is not a "rarest of the rare" case and, therefore, the Supreme Court's verdict upholding the death sentence awarded by the designated TADA court to Bhullar be "reviewed" and that he be "acquitted in the interest of justice".
"There are other technical points as well. There is a law that when somebody is very, very sick, he should not be hanged. For the last two-and-a-half years, he has been very sick," Badal said.
The petition submitted by SAD said that Bhullar is not in a fit state of mind. The ministry of external affairs, it said, had suggested commutation of his death sentence. Bhullar has been in custody for the last 17 years.
The Akalis were of the view that since the apex court gave a majority verdict confirming the death sentence, he should not be hanged. The punishment in such instances is a life sentence, the party said.
"Our main stress is on communal harmony," Badal said.
The SAD leaders have also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister Sushilkumar Shinde in connection with Bhullar's case.
The President had rejected the mercy petition of Bhullar, who was convicted by the TADA court in 2001 for his role in 1993 Delhi blast that killed nine people at the Youth Congress office here. The target was MS Bitta, who was then the Youth Congress President.
The SAD delegation that met the President included Deputy Punjab chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Harsimrat Kaur, Naresh Gujral and Rattan Singh Ajnala.