[article_date] The Supreme Court has ruled that a death sentence cannot be commuted to life imprisonment because of a delay in execution.
The court has rejected an appeal by Prof Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar against his hanging.
Bhullar had appealed against his execution on the grounds that his petition for mercy was kept pending by the President of the country for eight years. He was given the death sentence for killing nine people with a car bomb in Delhi in 1993.
Prof Bhullar was extradited from Germany on assurances by India that he would not face capital punishment. Bhullar’s wife was in court when the verdict against him was announced. “The court didn’t consider our points,” she said. Bhullar’s family and friends say that his time in prison has affected his mental health.
Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) expressed its regret over today’s Supreme Court judgement rejecting Devinder Singh Bhullar’s plea to
commute his death penalty to life sentence on the ground that he underwent great agony for 11 years awaiting the President’s decision on his mercy plea.
“It is an opportunity lost for recognising ‘death row syndrome’ i.e. the traumatic stress imposed on a prisoner by having to wait on prison wings set aside for those sentenced to death. The European Court of Human Rights in its judgement in the case of Soering v United Kingdom has already recognised ‘death row syndrome’ to be in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights relating to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, bearing in mind the age and mental well-being of the person concerned and the conditions and length of detention on death row”, said Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.
“Mr Bhullar’s case calls for development of criteria for consideration of mercy pleas by the President. Since Mr. Justice M.B Shah in his dissenting judgment held that confessional statement of Bhullar as recorded by the investigating officer cannot be the sole basis for awarding death sentence to him, President Patil should have taken the dissenting judgement into consideration as she had commuted death sentences into life imprisonment for death-row convicts in whose cases there was no dissenting opinion of any judge. India’s tilt against political crimes is palpable,” Chakma added.Sikh24 Editors can be reached at email@example.com