SC to hear Bhullar's plea against death penalty

SC to hear Bhullar's plea against death penalty

The Supreme Court on Friday decided to hear a curative petition against the verdict which rejected a plea for commutation of death penalty awarded to Khalistan supporter D P S Bhullar into life term on the ground of delay and mental illness.

A bench presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said it would hear the petition on January 28 and 29 when senior advocate K T S Tulsi mentioned the matter.

The apex court had on January 21 spared 15 death row convicts of noose by converting their sentence to life term. It had held that unreasonable delay in disposal of mercy pleas by President or Governor could be a ground to commute death sentence.

The 156-page verdict came as a relief to Bhullar whose plea for commutation of capital punishment was rejected by the apex court on the ground of grave terror charges he faced. He had petitioned the court on the point of delay in disposal of mercy petition and his poor mental health.

The three-judge bench had held that the ground of unexplained delay for commutation of death sentence would be available to all convicts including those facing terror charges.

The latest verdict superseded a two-judge bench decision of August 14, last which had dismissed a review petition Bhullar had filed against the April 12 verdict rejecting his plea to allow commutation of death penalty into life term.

Bhullar (49), then teaching in Guru Nanak Engineering College Ludhiana, was held guilty and sent to gallows by a TADA court for carrying out explosion on the car cavalcade of the then Youth Congress President Maninderjit Singh Bitta here on September 10, 1993.

The apex court upheld his conviction and punishment in 2002 and rejected review and curative petitions.

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