M A I N   N E W S

SC to frame norms to process mercy pleas
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 15
The Supreme Court today directed the government to provide details of all mercy petitions filed by death row convicts in order to lay down guidelines to be followed by officials while processing such pleas before forwarding these to the President or the state Governors.

A Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya asked Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval to collect the information from the Centre and the states and provide it to the court within four weeks.

The Bench passed the order while hearing Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s petition pleading for commutation of his death penalty in view of the eight years of delay in the rejection of his mercy plea by the President. Bhullar was sentenced to death on August 25, 2001 for carrying out a bomb attack on September 10, 1993 on the then Youth Congress President MS Bitta.

The Bench made it clear that it wanted the details to ensure that all the convicts, irrespective of the fact whether they were in a position to put pressure through their supporters or had the means to approach the judiciary time and again, were treated alike by the authorities and got uniform benefit, if any.

A large number of such convicts were not in a position to engage a lawyer or were not aware of their right to seek pardon by filing mercy petitions, the Bench noted.

The SC appointed senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and TR Andyarujina as amicus curiae to assist the Bench on the issue. Pending receipt of the information and the views of the amicus, the Bench posted the next hearing in the case for the second week of January 2012.





Prez ignored relevant factors, Bhullar tells Supreme Court
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 15
The President did not take into account several factors while rejecting the mercy petition of Devínder Pal Singh Bhullar, sentenced to death in 2001 for the 1993 bomb attack on the then Youth Congress President MS Bitta, it was argued in the Supreme Court today.

The fact that Bhullar was convicted solely on the basis of his confessional statement and that the Supreme Court upheld his sentence through a split 2-1 verdict was ignored by the President, senior counsel KTS Tulsi contended before a Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya.

The President also did not take into account another factor that Bhullar had gone insane following the solitary confinement he underwent due to the eight years of delay in taking a decision on his mercy plea, Tulsi argued. On the split verdict by the SC, the senior counsel said there was “room for doubt” over the involvement of Bhullar in the attack as Justice MB Shah, the senior-most Judge of the three-member Bench, had delivered a dissenting judgment against giving him death penalty. The President should have taken into account all these points before taking a decision.





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