The Centre gave this assurance to the Supreme Court after it expressed its anguish over the delay in framing its response to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s recommendation commuting Bhullar’s death sentence.
“On January 6, the Lieutenant Governor has sent his recommendations but there is no decision by the Centre. In a case like this, the Centre should have taken decision without delay and this is really torture,” a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said.
The Home Ministry, the Centre informed the Court, will consider the Lieutenant Governor’s views and send his recommendations to the President, as it sought two weeks’ time to inform the bench about the fate of the mercy petition filed by Bhullar’s wife.
The court will hear the case next on March 10.
Two weeks ago, the Delhi government had asked for Bhullar’s death sentence to be commuted to life citing his mental illness. It also referred to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in January that an exceptional delay in a decision on a convict’s mercy petition is a valid reason to spare them the death sentence.
The Supreme Court judges who handed out last month’s verdict also said that mental illness such as schizophrenia and the use of solitary confinement could make a convict eligible for a reduced sentence.
Bhullar was convicted of triggering a bomb blast in Delhi in 1993 and killing nine people. He applied to the President for clemency in January 2003; his request was rejected eight years later. Last year, a Supreme Court bench also rejected his plea for mercy, after which he filed another petition for a review.
His family had said that he should not be hanged because he is mentally unwell.