Navneet Kaur on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on execution of her husband, Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, until a petition seeking review of the April 12 judgment, rejecting the plea for commutation of the death sentence, was disposed of.
Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and K.T.S. Tulsi ‘mentioned’ the filing of the writ petition before a Bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Vikramajit Sen and Kurian Joseph, and pleaded for stay of the execution. The CJI asked Mr. Jethmalani, “How many times will you approach the court?” He, however, said the court would consider the plea.
In her writ petition, Ms. Kaur said that on April 26, she and her husband, Bhullar, who was mentally ill, had filed a petition seeking review of the April 12 judgment. She had a serious apprehension that her husband, a Punjab militant, would be executed even as the review petition was still pending.
“By convicting Bhullar and awarding the death sentence on the basis of a confession, the trial court as well as the Supreme Court not only committed a grave error of law but also diverted itself from the usual practice and procedure laid down in other judgments under TADA. The confirmation of capital punishment and subsequent dismissal of his review petition as well as curative petition by this court are a grave injustice,” she said.
The petitioner referred to the dissenting judgment given by Justice M.B. Shah (a three-judge Bench by a majority of 2:1 upheld the death sentence), who had said there was no evidence against Bhullar as it would be unsafe to rely solely on the alleged confession recorded by the investigating officer. Further, a perusal of the file which was sent to the President in 2005 and 2011 made no reference to the three reasons given by Justice Shah for acquitting Bhullar of the charges.
Insofar as the other evidence against the accused was concerned, Ms. Kaur said there were no eyewitnesses who identified her husband, nor was there any fingerprint or scientific evidence which connected him to the offence. Failure to advert to the reasons given by Justice Shah while considering the mercy petition was violative of the direction given in the majority judgment, which confirmed the death sentence.