Professor Bhuller Faces Death Penalty in India Despite Lack of Evidence

Professor Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar was sentenced to death on August 25, 2001 in a case manufactured by the Indian authorities who alleged that he was involved in a bomb attack in New Delhi in 1993. He was arrested at the New Delhi airport in January 1995 under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), a law that subsequently lapsed, and contained provisions incompatible with international fair trial standards. The United Nations condemned these laws as “disturbing and completely unacceptable.” Accoring to human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, the case against Bhullar is based on information that is highly dubious.

Bhullar had no access to a lawyer during his initial detention and trial. He was found guilty on the basis of an unsubstantiated “confession” that he made to the police. (Instead of the signature of this educated man, the confession statement contained his thumbprint instead).  He later retracted his statement claiming it was made under police pressure. In March 2002, the Supreme Court upheld Bhullar’s death sentence, though one of the three judges on the bench had found him not guilty, saying there was no evidence to convict him. A review petition was dismissed by the same Supreme Court judges, again by a 2 to 1 majority, in December 2002. Bhullar has been receiving treatment at a psychiatric facility in New Delhi and in 2011 his lawyer requested that the Supreme Court consider his mental condition as grounds for commuting his death sentence.

The President of India rejected Bhullar’s mercy petition in May 2011, eight years after the request was filed. Bhullar subsequently challenged the President’s decision before the Supreme Court, seeking commutation of his death sentence on the grounds of inordinate delay in its consideration and challenging the constitutionality of his prolonged stay on death row. The Supreme Court rejected his plea on April 12, 2013.  According to Amnesty International, this decision is likely to affect at least 17 more prisoners whose mercy petitions have been rejected by the President.

Recent News

The Hindu, There is case for commuting Bhullar sentence: M.B. Shah (April 21, 2013)

The Times of India, Public prosecutor turns surprise ally for Bhullar (April 18, 2013)

The Economic Times, Government did not consult me on Bhullar, says Justice MB Shah (April 17, 2013)

Sikh Organizations in the Diaspora Appeal to United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (April 16, 2013)

India Today, Justice Katju seeks pardon for 1993 Delhi blast convict Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar (April 13, 2013)

The Times of India, Deportation of Bhullar illegal, German court had ruled (April 13, 2013)

Amnesty India, Devender Pal Bhullar at risk of imminent execution (April 12, 2013)

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