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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

SC to relook at Bhullar's plea for life

HTC/PTI, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, January 24, 2014
First Published: 13:03 IST(24/1/2014) | Last Updated: 20:31 IST(24/1/2014)

Three days after commuting the death sentences of Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar and 14 other convicts on the ground of inordinate delay in deciding their mercy petitions, the Supreme Court also agreed on Friday to hear his request for a relook at his case.

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Last April, the top court had dismissed a petition from Bhullar's wife's to commute his sentence because the President had taken eight years to decide on the mercy plea. A two-judge bench led by justice GS Singhvi dismissed the plea, holding that Bhullar had been charged with involvement in terrorist activity.

The January 21 verdict by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam overruled the judgment in Bhullar's case and said there couldn't be distinction between terror and non-terror cases for giving relief on account of delay in the execution of the death sentence.

Senior lawyer KTS Tulsi, counsel for Bhullar's wife, argued in the CJI's court for early hearing on the curative petition in the wake of the recent judgment. The CJI told Tulsi the matter would be taken up on January 28 or 29. Tulsi asked the court to call for Bhullar's medical examination certificates, to know that he had mental illness. The January 21 judgment also said any unstable convict should not be hanged.

Bhullar was awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi in September 1993, killing nine people and injuring 25. The-then Youth Congress president, Maninderjeet Singh Bitta was among the injured.

Timeline

September 1993: A bomb blast in New Delhi kills nine people and injures 25; later, Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar is convicted in the case

March 26, 2002:
the Supreme Court dismisses Bhullar's plea against the death sentence that a trial court awarded in August 2001 and the Delhi high court endorsed in 2002

December 17, 2002:
The top court also dismisses his petition to review the verdict

March 12, 2003:
Bhullar's curative plea also rejected; meanwhile on January 14, 2003, Bhullar files a mercy petition before the President

May 14, 2011, after more than eight years, the President dismisses his mercy plea; Bhullar's wife challenges the rejection, citing inordinate delay in the decision; even claims Bhullar has mental illness

April 12, 2013: The Supreme Court rejects the petition, saying Bhullar is convicted under the stringent anti-terror law and his family is to blame for the alleged inordinate delay; certificates of mental illness not taken into account.

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