New Delhi: A Sikh militant convicted for a car bombing in Delhi more than two decades ago will not hang, the Supreme Court ruled today, reducing his punishment to a life sentence.
Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s wife had petitioned the court to stop his execution because he allegedly developed mental illness while languishing on death row and because of a long delay in deciding his appeal for clemency.
Mr Bhullar was sentenced to death in 2001 for masterminding a bombing in Delhi which killed nine people. The attack targeted Maninderjit Singh Bitta, a leader of the Congress and a critic of militant separatists. Mr Bitta survived the attack.
Mr Bhullar filed a clemency petition in 2003 but it was rejected eight years later by President Pratibha Patil.
Last week, the union government told the top court that it has “no problem” with the 49-year-old being spared the death sentence.
In January this year, the Supreme Court stopped the 15 death row prisoners on the grounds that “inordinate and inexplicable” delays in hanging are grounds for reducing the penalty. (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.
The judges handling Mr Bhullar’s case had said that verdict could impact his case.