Defend the Defenders: Human Rights Law Network

Supreme Court commutes Bhullar’s death sentence

The Supreme Court on 27 June 2014, commuted the death sentence awarded to Mr. Devendra Pal Singh Bhullar into life imprisonment. A four judge Bench of Chief Justice and Justices R.M. Lodha, H.L. Dattu and S.J. Mukhopadhaya said that  inordinate and unexplained delay in disposal of mercy petition by the President of India and mental illness are grounds for commutation.

An earlier case of Shatrughan Chauhan filed by HRLN also swung in Mr. Bhullar’s favour. The Hindu quotes, “writing the judgment the CJI Sathasivam said, “On January 21, a three-Judge Bench of this court in Shatrughan Chauhan case held that insanity/mental illness/schizophrenia is also one of the supervening circumstances for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment. By applying the principle enunciated in this case, the accused cannot be executed with the said health condition.”

Earlier the Supreme Court had on March 26, 2002 dismissed HRLN’s appeal on behalf of Mr. Bhullar's against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.

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