The long pendency of the mercy plea of Khalistani terrorist Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, who is on death row over a 1993 car bomb blast at the Youth Congress office here, could not be described as an act of cruelty, the government has told the Supreme Court.
“It is the pendency of the mercy petition that has given the petitioner (Bhullar) the right to live, albeit in jail,” the government said.
Explaining the delay in deciding the mercy plea by Bhullar, an affidavit dated Oct 14 filed by the union home ministry said that “the time taken for the disposal of mercy petitions depends upon the nature of the case and the scope of the examination to be made”.
The government filed the affidavit in response to a petition by Bhullar before the court questioning the inordinately long time of eight years taken by the government in deciding his mercy petition seeking commutation of his death sentence into life imprisonment.
Bhullar filed the mercy petition Jan 14, 2003 which was rejected by the president May 25, 2011.
Bhullar moved the Supreme court seeking commuting of his death sentence into life imprisonment on the grounds of inordinate delay deciding his mercy petition.
While admitting the court’s power in deciding whether there was an inordinate delay in deciding the mercy petitions, the government contended that in Bhullar’s case there was no such delay.
The affidavit said that entertaining the mercy petition was under the special powers of the president and it could not be subject to any time limit.
The affidavit said that “…once the court of law has upheld the conviction based on evidence and awarded death sentence, the petitioner (Bhullar) by no stretch of imagination can complain that his fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 has been violated”.
Replying to Bhullar’s contention that international conventions provided for the abolition of death sentence, the affidavit said that death penalty was a statutory provision in India and was applied in rarest of rare cases.
government said that Bhullar would have liked that the decision on his mercy petition was delayed as long as possible as it gave him the lease of life. The affidavit said that the decision on the petition either way would have resulted in his hanging or incarceration through out his life.