The state health department has forwarded a proposal to Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna to seek his approval for the constitution of an independent medical board to ascertain whether death row convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s mental condition allows him to be hanged.
Bhullar, whose petition for commutation of his death sentence was rejected by the Supreme Court recently, is lodged at the Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences (IHBAS) for over two years for treatment of a psychiatric ailment. The jail manual requires death row convicts suffering from psychiatric ailments to be examined by a medical board.
“The state health department has forwarded the proposal for the setting up of a special medical board to evaluate Bhullar’s mental condition to Delhi’s Lieutenant-Governor for approval,” said a government source. The source said, “Once the approval comes, the board will be constituted with around three-four experts from different hospitals, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, as its members.”
According to the source, the apex court had dealt with the issue of Bhullar’s ailment in context of a final decision on commuting the death penalty. “The medical board will now examine him to determine if he is fit to be hanged,” said the source.
Before his admission to IHBAS, Bhullar was lodged at a solitary cell fitted with a closed-circuit television camera at Tihar prison’s sub-jail 3. His cell was located close to the cell of 2001 Parliament terror attack case death convict Mohammed Afzal Guru who was hanged on February 9.
According to IHBAS’s director Dr Nimesh G. Desai, Bhullar has a psychiatric ailment---depression with psychotic features-- and has suicidal tendencies. Bhullar had allegedly tried to hang himself in a bathroom around 10 months ago but he was due to IHBAS’s surveillance system.