A Sikh militant convicted for a car bombing in Delhi more than two decades ago will not be hanged, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, reducing his punishment to life sentence. Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s wife had petitioned the court to stop his execution because he allegedly developed mental illness while languishing on death row and because of a long delay in deciding his appeal for clemency. Bhullar was sentenced to death in 2001 for masterminding a bombing in Delhi which killed nine people.
Last week, the union government told the top court that it has “no problem” with the 49-year-old being spared the death sentence. In January this year, the Supreme Court stopped the 15 death row prisoners on the grounds that “inordinate and inexplicable” delays in hanging are grounds for reducing the penalty.
Earlier the Supreme Court rejected the mercy petition of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar. The court said that delay cannot be a ground for commuting death sentence to a life term. Since execution is irreversible, the later reflection was of no use to the executed convict nor to the justice delivery system. Then there is the split in judgment wherein one judge is for acquittal while the other two differ and deliver their separate judgement.
Bhullar was sentenced to death in 2001 for carrying out a bomb blast outside the Delhi Youth Congress office in 1993 that left nine people dead. Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar is a convict on death row in India. He was found guilty of killing 9 bystanders in a 1993 car bombing intended to kill Maninderjeet Singh Bitta. He is also a suspect in two other deadly terrorist attacks in India. On 11 September 1993, a car bomb exploded outside the offices of the Indian Youth Congress on Raisina Road in New Delhi. The bomb used RDX as explosive and was remote-controlled. 9 people were killed by the bomb. The Khalistan Liberation Force claimed responsibility for the attack. The primary target for the mid-day bombing was identified as Maninder Singh Bitta, a vocal critic of Khalistani separatists, who was leaving the Youth Congress offices in his car. Bitta survived the attack with shrapnel wounds to his chest. However, two of Bitta’s body guards were killed. Bitta was also the target of an earlier 1992 bombing in Amritsar in which he lost a leg. 13 people were killed in the 1992 Amritsar bombing. After investigation, authorities named Bhullar, a militant affiliated with the Khalistan Liberation Force, as the bomber responsible for the 1993 Raisina Road car bomb. Bhullar was awarded death penalty. The Supreme Court had on March 26, 2002, dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.
Inordinate and unexplainable delay in disposal of mercy petitions does constitute an agonising additional punishment for the death row convicts. Hurdle in punishment cannot dilute the intensity of the grave crimes committed by the convicts awarded the Capital Punishment. Any injustice to any under-trial convict is unlikely in view of multiple levels of appeals available to all without any prejudice. Overexcited sensationalism by human rights activists is a matter of shame. Why nobody talks about rights of the victims? Coming to this case, when the law has a provision for capital punishment, the Supreme Court is the final decision maker.
Bhullar was one of the masterminds to execute the first RDX attack to blow up the car of, Sumedh Singh Saini, then SSP of Chandigarh, (now director general of Punjab Police) who was known for combating terrorism in Punjab, in which many security personnel were killed on August 29, 1991, though Saini himself escaped. However, apart from these accounts of brutality, little is known about Devinderpal, or how this brilliant country lad from Dialpura Bhai Ka village took to terrorism. Investigations revealed after passing his matriculation from Jalal village high school of Bathinda district with distinction, Devinderpal joined Guru Nanak Engineering College, Ludhiana and completed his BE (mechanical). Immediately after that, he joined as an instructor in a polytechnic college in Ludhiana, but was soon forced to resign due to ill-health. Then he shifted to Chandigarh and joined as an assistant engineer in a computer firm in 1990, where he came into contact with Amarpal Singh alias Badesha, an event that changes his life. There was no looking back after that. Devinderpal Singh, a promising engineer, was swept away by a surge of religious emotion following Operation Bluestar, investigations revealed.
There is no provision of any time limit in constitution. In fact, the police that is part of executive fights to get death penalty, and public prosecutor, and state attorney fights in court to get death sentence. So, it sounds very silly that President, who heads executive also, pardons and waste the efforts of police and prosecutors. In fact, constitution should be amended and the convict pardoned by the president should be quashed. Death penalty should be retained and extended to rape cases as well. Law is above all and nobody is above the Law. Any person whosoever indulged in the terrorist activities and creates a threat to the unity and integrity of the nation does not need mercy, but finally he has been spared.