The eleventh hour plea, seeking refuge in the dissenting judgment of the presiding judge of the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s case, to commute his death sentence shows how casually we deal with judicial pronouncements. On top of this comes the plea of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to the Prime Minister for commuting the death sentence since Bhullar is mentally unsound and his execution might create law and order problems in his State. If the government commutes Bhullar’s sentence, how will it deal with other death row convicts? The DMK is already spearheading the cause of Rajiv Gandhi assassins. What about Veerappan’s aides? Should their lives also be spared?
What message did we send Kashmiris by hanging Afzal Guru secretly? What is the message we seek to send to the Sikhs by executing Bhullar? And to the Tamils by executing Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins whose mercy petitions have been pending for years?
The constitutional obligation of the President should go beyond these convictions and sentence by courts. By not considering the cases of those who have been living under the shadow of death for years favourably, the state would be violating their right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.