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  4. Katju at it again, seeks President's pardon for Devinderpal Singh Bhullar

Katju at it again, seeks President's pardon for Devinderpal Singh Bhullar

New Delhi, Apr 14: Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju has written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking pardon for Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who has been awarded death sentence in connection with

PTI Updated on: April 14, 2013 6:54 IST
katju at it again seeks president s pardon for devinderpal
katju at it again seeks president s pardon for devinderpal singh bhullar

New Delhi, Apr 14: Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju has written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking pardon for Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who has been awarded death sentence in connection with the 1993 Delhi bomb blast case.




Katju's letter comes close on the heels of a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court rejecting the plea of Bhullar, a Khalistani terrorist and death row convict Bhullar in a judgement that paves the way for his execution.

Katju said that Bhullar has been in detention since his arrival in India in January 1995 i.E over 18 years and added that he had suffered prolonged mental agony and trauma for this long period in death row with a Damocles' sword hanging over his head.

Assigning reasons behind his plea, Katju said Supreme Court had earlier rejected Bhullar's appeal against his death sentence by a 2-1 majority, not by a unanimous decision and added that the senior most judge on the bench Justice M B Shah had acquitted Bhullar.

Katju said that he had perused the judgement of Justice Shah who had noticed that the only evidence against Bhullar is his alleged confessional statement to the investigating office.

Justice Shah has observed that “when the rest of the accused who are named in the confessional statement are not convicted or tried, this was not a fit case for convicting the appellant solely on the basis of the so called confessional statement recorded by the police officer”, Katju wrote.

He added that Justice Shah noticed in his judgement that there was nothing on record to corroborate the aforesaid alleged confessional statement.

Katju's letter said that when rest of the accused who are named in the confessional statement are not convicted or tried, this would not be a fit case for convicting the appellant solely on the basis of so-called confessional statement recorded by the police officer.

Katju said that the majority view of the bench has to be accepted as the judgement of the court but added that the considerations under Article 72/161 of the Constitution were different from those in judicial proceeding.

Katju said that Bhullar had been having some chronic psychiatric problem and sought pardon for him.

Katju said that in its judgement of 2002 by a 2-1 majority, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence to Bhullar. Thereafter, the appeal for mercy under Article 72 Constitution of India was rejected. He then filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the order rejecting his mercy petition on the ground of delay in the proceeding but that petition was rejected by the Supreme Court yesterday.

Katju said that he was appealing as there is nothing in Article 72 Constitution of India to debar a second mercy petition if the first has been rejected.
Full text of the letter for pardon to the President:

1. H.E. The President of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi

2. The Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, 7, Race Course Road, New Delhi.

3. The Hon'ble Home Minister of India, 2, Krishna Menon Marg, New Delhi.

4. Lt. Governor of Delhi Raj Bhavan, Delhi.

Re: Appeal for Pardon/Commutation of Death Sentence to Devender Pal Singh Bhullar.

Your Excellency,

?I am appealing to you for Pardon/Commutation of the to death sentence awarded to Devender Pal Singh Bhullar in connection with the 1993 Delhi bomb blast case.

?In its judgment of 2002 by a 2-1 majority the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence to Bhullar. Thereafter, the appeal for mercy under Article 72 Constitution of India was rejected.

He then filed a petition in the Hon'ble Supreme Court against the order rejecting his mercy petition on the ground of delay in the proceeding but that petition was rejected by the Supreme Court yesterday. I am appealing to you for Pardon/commutation of the death sentence.

In this connection, I wish to state as follow:

(1) There is nothing in Article 72 Constitution of India to debar a second mercy petition if the first has been rejected.

(2) Article 72 does not state who can make the mercy petition. Hence, I as a citizen of India am also entitled to move this mercy petition.

(3) The reasons for making this mercy petition are as fellow:

(a) By the judgment dated 22.3.2002 the Hon'ble Supreme Court rejected Bhullar's appeal against his death sentence by a 2-1 majority, not by a unanimous decision.

The senior most judge on the bench, Justice M.B. Shah, acquitted Bhullar. I have carefully perused the judgment of Justice M. B. Shah. Justice Shah has noticed that the only evidence against Bhullar is his alleged confessional statement to the investigating office.


Justice Shah has observed that “when the rest of the accused who are named in the confessional statement are not convicted or tried, this was not a fit case for convicting the appellant solely on the basis of the so called confessional statement recorded by the police officer”

Justice Shah has noticed in his judgment that there was nothing on record to corroborate the aforesaid alleged confessional statement.

Justice Shah in his judgment has further observed:

“In any set of circumstances, none of the main culprits i.e. Harnaik or Lahoria is convicted. In these set of circumstances, without there being corroborative evidence, it would be difficult to solely rely upon the so-called confessional statement and convict the accused and that too when the confessional statement is recorded by the investigating officer.

For this purpose, it would be worthwhile to refer to the decision in Topandas v. State of Bombay (AIR 1956 SCC 33 para 6):

“Criminal conspiracy has been defined in Section 120A Penal Code:

“When two or more persons agree to do or cause to be done (i) an illegal act, or (ii) an act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy.”

By the terms of the definition itself, there ought to be two or more persons who must be parties to such an agreement and it is trite to say that one person alone can never be held guilty of criminal conspiracy for the simple reason that one cannot conspire with oneself. If therefore, 4 named individuals were charged with having committed the offence under Section 120-B Penal Code and if three out of these 4 were acquitted of the charge, the remaining accused, who was the accused No. 1 in the case before us, could never be held guilty of the offence of criminal conspiracy.”

The court further discussed the aforesaid question and referred to the decision in R. V. Plummer
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