New Delhi: The Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, convicted for a 1993 blast in Delhi, to life in jail. The Centre had said it had no objection to his being spared the death sentence.
In January this year, the court had stopped Bhullar's execution and had sought a medical report on his mental health. (Supreme Court stops execution of terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar) His family has pleaded that the 49-year-old is mentally unfit and thus should not be hanged.
Last week, the Centre told the court that it had "no problem" with him being spared the death sentence and that such a petition could be allowed in view of a recent Supreme Court verdict that a delay in deciding mercy pleas can be a ground for such relief.
Mr Bhullar was convicted of triggering a bomb blast in Delhi in 1993 that killed nine people. He had applied to the President for clemency in January 2003. His request was rejected eight years later.
His family then pleaded in the Supreme Court that he be spared the death sentence as he was mentally ill and also because of the delay by the President of India in deciding his clemency appeal.
In April last year, the Supreme Court had refused to commute his death sentence to life in prison.
But after the top court commuted, in January this year, the death sentences of 15 convicts and found that "inordinate and inexplicable" delays in carrying out an execution are grounds for reducing the penalty, the judges in the Bhullar case observed that the landmark ruling could affect their decision. (Supreme Court commutes 15 death sentences due to delays)
While commuting the death sentences in January, the Supreme Court had also said that mental illness such as schizophrenia and the use of solitary confinement could make a convict eligible for a reduced sentence.