New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and pressed for the commutation of Devindra Pal Singh Bhullar’s death sentence to life imprisonment.
“We met the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to ask for clemency for Bhullar,” Parkash Singh Badal said adding, “This would disturb Punjab`s peaceful atmosphere.”
The Badals’ meeting with the Prime Minister came in the wake of reports that the Centre is reportedly weighing the pros and cons of executing him secretly in the Tihar jail where he is due to be shifted soon after the Supreme Court rejected Bhullar’s mercy petition.
Bhullar, who is currently undergoing treatment at the Institute of Human Behaviour Allied Science (IHBAS), will be shortly shifted to the Tihar Jail in Delhi.
The apex court verdict on Bhullar has evoked a strong response from various quarters, including the Shiromani Akali Dal, the SGPC and various Sikh organizations, which have argued that his death sentence should have been commuted into a life term.
Earlier, Akal Takth, the top temporal seat of Sikhs, had directed SGPC, known to be mini parliament of Sikhs, to ensure measures to save Bhullar from gallows.
Badal too had been maintaining that Bhuller`s death penalty be reverted to life imprisonment. The veteran SAD leader is apprehending that hanging Bhullar could vitiate peaceful environment of Punjab.
Intelligence agencies have warned about the political ramifications of Bhullar’s execution and suggested that his hanging should be carried out in secrecy, as was done in the case of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru.
According to intelligence officials, secret execution of Bhullar will prevent the likely spectre of trouble from radical elements in his home state, Punjab, and possible attempts by inimical forces across the border to capitalize on his hanging to underline the alienation of Sikhs in India.
The Centre is also likely to avoid handing over his body to his family members for his last rites in Bhatinda. Instead, his cremation may be carried out on the Tihar premises itself.
The bodies of Indira Gandhi`s assassins - Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh - were also not handed over to their kin and cremated in Tihar after their execution in 1989.
The Centre, which faced criticism for its failure to inform Afzal Guru`s family ahead of its hanging, may be more sensitive this time to the concerns of Bhullar`s kin.
Care may be taken to keep the family in the loop on the execution of his death sentence, while also ensuring that secrecy is not compromised.
On April 02, the Supreme Court dismissed Bhullar’s mercy petition to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment.
Delivering the verdict, a bench of Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya said that the petitioners failed to make out a case for commutation of sentence on the ground of delay in deciding mercy plea.
Bhullar was awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi in September 1993, killing nine people and injuring 25 others, including then Youth Congress president MS Bitta.
The apex court had on March 26, 2002, dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.
He had filed a review petition which was also dismissed on December 17, 2002. Bhullar had then moved a curative petition which too had been rejected by the apex court on March 12, 2003.
Bhullar, meanwhile, had filed a mercy petition before the President on January 14, 2003. The President dismissed his mercy plea on May 25, 2011.
Bhullar, a graduate in electrical engineering from Guru Nanak Engineering College, Ludhiana, served as professor in different technical colleges of Punjab.
With Agency inputs