NEW DELHI (TIP): Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on April 17 filed a review mercy petition with President Pranab Mukherjee seeking clemency for 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar and cautioned that hanging of the death row convict could disturb peace and harmony in the state.
The 17-page mercy petition filed by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal urges the President to go into “the merits of the case” and says “it does not fall within the definition of rare of the rarest cases”. Justifying the second mercy petition, SAD said “changed circumstances” necessitate a review and cites an SC judgment of 2010 to argue “there is no bar in filing a second clemency petition”. Emerging from the meeting, Badal told mediapersons, “We have sought clemency for Bhullar and the main reason is that the hanging will affect communal harmony and peace in Punjab.” On whether he was in favour of abolishing the death penalty, Badal said, “That is a big issue and needs a wider debate”. The petition says, “The Akali Dal is extremely concerned about the volatile law and order situation in the state. The fallout of the Supreme Court order has led to is a surcharged atmosphere in the state.
Our apprehension is if the death sentence is executed, it will create serious law and order problem and will give fresh breeding ground to the people who are averse to the idea of peace and communal harmony”. The petition comes just three days after Badal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on the same issue and submitted representations. Bhullar’s first mercy petition was rejected last year by former President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil.
The Supreme Court had on April 12 rejected a plea that there had been a delay in deciding a mercy petition and upheld his death sentence. The petition said, “The Akali Dal is extremely concerned about the volatile law and order situation in the state. The fallout of the Supreme Court order has led to is a surcharged atmosphere in the state. Our apprehension is if the death sentence is executed, it will create serious law and order problem and will give fresh breeding ground to the people who are averse to the idea of peace and communal harmony”. SAD argued that Bhullar’s death penalty was confirmed following a split verdict of the Supreme Court. “Mr Justice MB Shah had dissented and held that if death sentence is altered to imprisonment for life, it would the sufficient to meet the ends of justice… the confession of the accused (Bhullar) is not voluntary.
The main accused (Daya Singh Lahoria) has already been acquitted and further held that the accused is not guilty and deserves to be acquitted,” the SAD petition says while quoting the SC verdict. Badal’s plea is that the SC, while deciding Bhullar’s main appeal as well as review petition, had said “the President of India would keep in mind the view of Mr Justice MB Shah while deciding the clemency petition.” The Petition goes on to remind the President about powers under Article 161 of the Constitution of India: “The Constitutional powers are meant to do substantial justice.” Further citing a 1989 apex court judgment and referring to Article 72 of the Constitution, the petition says, “The President can go into the merits of the case decided by the courts and can take a different view. That would not amount to suppression of the judicial verdict”.
The petition reminds the President how Daya Singh Lahoria, the principal accused for the 1993 Delhi blast in which Bhullar was convicted, was acquitted on the same set of evidence. “It is a travesty of justice that the person who is alleged to have only abetted is being hanged to death and the principal accused has been acquitted,” the SAD argument says.
The party says Bhullar’s case is exceptional. He is mentally sick and under treatment. Further, India has assured Germany, from where Bhullar was extradited, of no death sentence.