Supreme Court Commutes Bhullar’s Death Sentence


NEW DELHI, India—The Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence of Prof. Devinderpal Singh Bhullar to life term on the grounds of inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition, and his medical condition. He was wrongfully convicted, and awarded the death penalty in the 1993 Delhi bomb blast case. Headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, a bench of four-judges delivered this crucial judgment.

The bench, also comprising justices R.M. Lodha, H.L. Dattu, and S.J. Mukhopadhaya, passed the order on a curative petition filed by Bhullar’s wife Bibi Navneet Kaur Bhullar, who later pleaded before the court to review its ruling, in which Bhullar’s petition for commutation of the sentence was rejected, in view of its recent judgment, where it was held that inordinate delay in deciding mercy plea can be a ground for commutation of death penalty.

The Indian government had previously on March 27, 2014, told the court that it has agreed upon the commutation of Bhullar’s death sentence to a life term in view of the court’s January 21, verdict that delay in deciding mercy pleas can be a ground for such relief.

On January 31, the bench had stayed Bhullar’s hanging, and had agreed to review its previous judgment by which it had rejected his clemency plea. It had issued notice to the Center, and Delhi government, on a curative petition and had also directed the Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), where Bhullar is being treated, to file a medical report on his medical condition.


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