Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Tuesday announced that the government would examine the demand for clemency to 1993 blast convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar.
Mr. Shinde told journalists here that the Centre would look into the plea of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Mr. Badal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, seeking clemency to Bhullar, whose plea for commutation of his death sentence was dismissed by the Supreme Court last week. Mr. Badal warned that Bhullar’s execution was an emotive issue and it could create law and order problems in Punjab and other places.
However, government sources hinted that a medical board might be constituted to examine the health condition of Bhullar, who is reportedly mentally sick. Apart from his poor health conditions, clemency-seekers have been citing the split Supreme Court judgment in the case to get relief for the convict. In his memorandum to the Prime Minister, Mr. Badal said “there is legal and constitutional requirement for putting the [death penalty] case beyond all reasonable doubt. This was clearly not done in the case of Bhullar.”
Notably, over the years, several MPs and Sikh leaders, besides leaders from Europe and the U.S., had pleaded for granting clemency to Bhullar. But the government has remained firm on not giving any relief to him.
In his recommendation on Bhullar’s mercy petition forwarded to the President in 2011, the former Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, wrote: “This is a case of terrorism and the conviction is under the TADA…There is a dissenting judgment of one learned Judge who felt that the ‘accused deserved to be acquitted’ and, in any event, the punishment of death should be modified to one of life imprisonment. I am of the view that cases of terrorism do not deserve any mercy or compassion…I would, therefore, recommend that the sentence of death be confirmed.”
Apart from the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, the list of petitioners seeking clemency to Bhullar include the former Lok Sabha member, Simranjit Singh Mann; Rajya Sabha member and noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani; Tom Lantos from Congress of the United States; and Member of European Parliament Jean Lamberi.