The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners has in a statement called for an end to death penalty and sought repeal of the death sentence given to Delhi blast case convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar.
The statement, sent by Committee president S.A.R. Geelani, and office-bearers Amit Bhattacharyya, P. Koya, M.N. Ravunni and Rona Wilson, has at the outset claimed that “by rejecting the plea to commute the death penalty’’, the judiciary has taken a “regressive step’’.
It said the conviction of Bhullar was “solely based on a confession statement attributed to him which he had denied in the court’’ and this makes the decision even more regressive and exposes the claims of capital punishment being given only in the ‘rarest of rare’ cases.
Significantly, the Committee said, when Bhullar was being extradited from Germany it was assured by the Government of India that he would not be condemned to death.
Stating that Bhullar has been in prison since 1995 and has thus spent more than 18 years in prison, which is longer than a life term, the Committee said “thus, by refusing to consider the inordinate delay as a reason for the commutation of death sentence, the Supreme Court is violating the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Article 20(2), that no person shall be punished twice for the same offence.’’
It said the 10-year delay in disposing the mercy petition by the President was the ground on which Bhullar had sought commutation of his death penalty as it was a blatant violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The Committee also slammed “the Indian ruling classes and their politics of jingoism and hate’’, saying it was “definitely on the slippery slope heading for an orgy of judicial executions, which was triggered by the secret executions of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru.’’
Similar to the case of Afzal Guru, it said the conviction of Bhullar is also on shallow grounds.