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Commute Devinderpal Bhullar's death penalty to life term: Centre to Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it has "no problem" with commutation of death sentence of Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar to life term and the petition in this regard has to be allowed in view of the court's verdict that delay in deciding mercy pleas can be a ground for such relief.

"This is a case which has to be allowed because the mercy petition of the convict was decided after a delay of eight years," Attorney General G E Vahanvati told the bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam which said that a short order will be pronounced on March 31.

The Attorney General also said that he was making the submissions to this effect as the Centre's petition challenging the January 21 judgement, in which it was held that inordinate delay by government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence, has been dismissed.

Devinderpal Singh Bhullar
Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar. File pic

"So we have to follow the January 21 judgement and we have no problem," Vahanvati said.

He said there was no need to go into the merits of the curative petition filed by Bhullar’s wife Navneet Kaur.

At the outset, the bench, also comprising justices R M Lodha, H L Dattu and S J Mukhopadhaya, wanted to know about the health condition of Bhullar and perused the February 8 medical report of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).

The bench had on January 31 stayed Bhullar's execution and had agreed to review its judgement by which it had rejected the 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict's plea to commute his death sentence to life term.

It had issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government on a curative petition and had also directed IHBAS, where Bhullar is being treated, to file a medical report on the condition of the death row convict who is alleged to be suffering from mental illness.

The plea of Bhullar's wife for commutation of death sentence assumes significance in view of the apex court's January 21 verdict holding that inordinate and inexplicable delay by government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence.

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