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Monday, July 11, 2011

DEATH SENTENCE: Bhullar's wife moves Supreme Court against mercy plea rejection!

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J. VENKATESAN / The Hindu / NEW DELHI, July 10, 2011.

Execution of a mentally retarded prisoner is violative of Article 21, she says
The Supreme Court will hear on Monday a writ petition filed by the wife of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, a convict in the 1993 Delhi car bomb blast case. She has challenged the presidential rejection of the mercy plea to commute the death sentence awarded to her husband to life imprisonment.
Navneet Kaur contended that execution of a mentally retarded prisoner was violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.
She said Home Minister P. Chidambaram, on a number of occasions had told reporters that mercy pleas of convicts were being taken up for consideration in the serial order in which they appeared on the list.
“Surprisingly, the case of my husband, which is shown to have been submitted to the President, was suddenly taken up within two days of the Supreme Court on May 23 issuing notice to the government on the writ petition questioning inordinate delay in disposal of the mercy petition. It is clear that this case has been taken out of turn and chosen on arbitrary basis and perhaps as a measure of punishment for approaching the Supreme Court.”
The petitioner said: “picking up the case of my husband out of turn is clearly arbitrary and violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution as the case of another terrorist has remained pending with the President since June 21, 2005. There is, thus, no rational explanation as to why and on what provocation the President has decided the mercy petition under Article 72 of the Constitution. It is apparent that the rejection of the petition suffers from non-application of mind.”

Though painful it may to a wife, I am not sure that the presidential prerogative of granting pardon or no to a convict whose death penalty has been confirmed by the Supreme Court is subject to 'Judicial Review'!

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