By Sumit Saxena
New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) The Supreme Court has ordered status quo on Centre’s decision to grant special remission, on the occasion of the commemoration of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, to Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, serving a life term in 1993 Delhi bomb blast on then Youth Congress president M.S. Bitta’s entourage.
Bitta moved the apex court challenging Centre’s decision on September 27 recommending special remission to Bhullar leading to his release from prison.
“The government of India has decided that 8 Sikh prisoners may be granted special remission and death sentence of one Sikh prisoner may be commuted to life imprisonment”, said the notification.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said, “It has been decided that 8 Sikh prisoners (including Bhullar) be given special remission under Article 161 of the Constitution and be released from prison.”
Senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta, representing Bitta, contended before a bench headed by Justice Rohinton Nariman that once apex court commutes death penalty to life, it means remaining life span, and the release on the occasion of birthday is madness, which cannot be allowed.
“Executive cannot reduce the life sentence imposed by the apex court, and in any case, in a TADA conviction, power under Article 161 is not available”, said Gupta.
He also cited the apex court judgement for term exceeding 14 years is beyond application of remission, and also the court cannot ignore the fact that Bhullar mercilessly killed 9 innocent people using a car bomb containing 40 Kg RDX.
Bhullar’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court in March 2014. Bhullar was admitted to Swami Vivekanand De-addiction and Rehabilitation Centre at Amritsar for the treatment of psychiatric ailment, which he had developed during the period of incarceration.
He was shifted from Delhi’s Tihar jail to Amritsar Central Jail.
Bitta, in his plea, had challenged Bhullar’s insanity and termed it pretentious.
“He has been holding darbars within jail premises with active connivance and blessings of politico-radical nexus. It bears emphasis that the terror convict was regularly taken out to the hospital on flimsy grounds by jail administration wherein he freely hob-nobs with radical Khalistani elements…. he openly holds meeting with the likes of Harnam Singh Dhumma of the radical Damdami Taksal and and radical preachers like Blajit Singh Dauwal among others”, said the petition challenging Bhullar’s release.
Speaking to IANS, Bitta said: “I welcome the status quo order of the top court on Bhullar’s remission. We want to bring him back to the jail In Delhi and seek a probe into the veracity of his mental illness.”
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])