Bhullar verdict may impact Assam death row convict

Guwahati, April 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the hanging of condemned convicts is likely to impact the case of Assam’s death row murder convict Mahendra Nath Das, whose mercy plea was rejected by the president in 2011.

The apex court Friday ruled that delay in disposal of mercy petitions of death row convicts could not be a ground for commuting capital punishment to life imprisonment.

Mahendra Nath Das’s case was tagged by the apex court with the petition of death row convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, punished for the 1993 Delhi bomb blast, whose decision was delivered the day before.

“The verdict in the Bhullar’s case by the apex court is likely to impact the case of Das in Assam too. We are expecting to receive instruction from the court,” an official of the Jorhat jail, who refused to be identified, told IANS.

“It should not take more than 10 days to reach us,” he said, adding that the execution would take some time as the state government had to arrange for a hangman.

Mahendra Nath Das killed Rajen Das in Guwahati in 1990 and surrendered before the police. He beheaded Harakanta Das in 1996 in Guwahati while out on bail.

Das was sentenced to death in 1997. The penalty was confirmed by the Gauhati High Court in February 1998.

The apex court in May 1999 turned down the appeal of Das’ family members to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment. His mercy petition before the president was rejected in 2011.

Following the rejection of the mercy petition, Das was shifted to the Jorhat jail that is equipped for an execution.

However, the proposed hanging was stayed by the Gauhati High Court after his mother filed a writ petition before it. The apex court last year tagged Das’s petition with that of Bhullar’s.

The last two hangings in Jorhat jail were in 1989 and 1990, an official said.

Murder convict Henry W. Robert was hanged Nov 20, 1989 and multiple killings accused Kanpai Buragohain was hanged July 27, 1990.

(Anup Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])

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