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SC verdict on Bhullar death sentence today
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

Crucial case
Bhullar (pic) is seeking commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment in the 1993 bomb attack on former Youth Congress president MS Bitta
The verdict is crucial as the fate of similar petitions, including those of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, may rest on this judgment

New Delhi, April 11
The Supreme Court will deliver its judgment tomorrow on Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s plea for commuting to life imprisonment the death penalty awarded to him for the September 10, 1993 bomb attack on the then Youth Congress president MS Bitta.

A Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya will pronounce its verdict, giving its views on the desirability of commuting death sentences on account of the long delays in the rejection of mercy pleas by the Governors or the President on the advice of the respective government.

The verdict as such is likely to become a guiding factor for adjudicating a bunch of petitions by similarly placed convicts, including the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who are seeking commutation of the death penalty handed out to them.

Bhullar, his wife Navneet Kaur and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) have pleaded that he should be spared the gallows as he has virtually undergone life sentence due to the long delay in the rejection of his mercy plea. The Centre, however, has opposed the plea.

Besides the delay, another reason given in the plea was that Bhullar was being treated for some mental ailment.

The 1993 bomb attack in Delhi had killed nine security personnel and left 25 persons, including Bitta, injured. Bhullar is imprisoned at Tihar Jail here.

Three death-row convicts in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case — Santhan, Murugan and Arivu — have also sought commutation of their sentence to life, contending that their cases were similar to that of Bhullar.

On April 6, another SC Bench stayed the execution of eight death-row convicts, including former Haryana MLA Relu Ram Punia’s daughter Sonia and her husband Sanjeev.

The eight petitioners have challenged the execution move citing the long delays in the rejection of their mercy pleas. The other convicts are Suresh, Ramji, Gurmeet Singh, Praveen Kumar, Sundar Singh and Jafar Ali.





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