Badals meet PM, seek life term for Bhullar

Chandigarh, April 15 (IANS) Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal Monday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s immediate intervention in commuting the death sentence of 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar to life imprisonment.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is the Akali Dal president, met the prime minister at his official residence in New Delhi Monday morning.

They requested him to approach President Pranab Mukherjee to stay any further action on the execution of Bhullar and to get his death penalty commuted to life imprisonment, a spokesperson said here.

The Supreme Court last week rejected a petition by Bhullar seeking that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment as his mercy plea had not been decided by the president for a long time.

“The process must be started for finding ways to ensure that the ends of justice do not clash with the long term interests of the nation and with the objectives and operation of statesman-like approach in such sensitive matters.”

“In the overall national interest and in the interest of peace and communal harmony in the country in general and in Punjab in particular, the death penalty in this case may be commuted into life imprisonment,” said the memorandum submitted by the Akali Dal leaders to the prime minister.

The memorandum sought a “statesman-like intervention” by the president at this stage to save Bhullar from the gallows.

Jail officials and doctors have said Bhullar is undergoing treatment at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in Delhi for mental illness.

Saying that they were “deeply concerned” about the “psychological and emotional fallout of the case” the memorandum stated: “While we are deeply committed to maintaining peace and communal harmony in the state, the governments have no control over the emotional and psychological damage that such a case can inflict on collective social psyche. This damage must be avoided at all costs.”

Badal assured that law and order world be maintained in Punjab.

“The two leaders apprised the prime minister of widespread perception of the issue. While the law of the land should be upheld, it must be seen to have been upheld uniformly for everyone and for all sections of society. Justice should not only be done but must also be seen to have been done,” the spokesperson said, quoting the two leaders.

The memorandum pointed out that the dissenting note of the presiding judge of the Supreme Court bench in Bhullar’s case, on upholding his death sentence, should be taken seriously.

“The case no longer remains beyond all reasonable doubt. The dissenting note of the presiding judge cannot be taken lightly as this puts a serious question mark over the extreme quantum of punishment in the case. Since a death sentence can never be reversed once it is executed, there is an urgent need to exercise extreme caution in the matter, more so in the light of the verdict not being unanimous,” Badal pointed out.

Referring to Bhullar’s health condition, Sukhbir Badal, quoting doctors, said that the execution could not be carried out in these conditions.

“The long years spent by Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar in jail and the condition of his health is well known to all. Bhullar has been ailing for over two years as per the statement of his doctor,” Sukhbir Badal said.

Bhullar was given capital punishment for the Sep 10, 1993, blast at the Youth Congress office in Delhi that left nine dead and 17 injured. The attack was targeted against then Youth Congress leader M.S. Bitta.

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