Comparing death row convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar to “a child without a mind and in poor health,” Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung has told the Centre that he was in favour of commuting Bhullar’s death sentence to life term, “on principles of human ethics and natural justice”.
Jung’s opinion, based on the recommendation of a medical board, was sent to the MHA in January so as to enable President Pranab Mukherjee to take a final call on the mercy petition filed by Bhullar’s wife Navneet Kaur.
The L-G’s opinion was on Friday highlighted by the Delhi government as it submitted its response to the Supreme Court’s notice on a curative petition filed by Navneet, who has pleaded for commutation of his death penalty due to delay in deciding his mercy plea and also due to his mental illness.
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The government’s affidavit brings to the court’s notice latest findings of the medical board, set up in July last to assess two specific issues — current status of Bhullar’s mental and physical health and an opinion on whether he could recover completely.
In December last, the report by the medical board stated that Bhullar, who has been admitted in a mental facility since 2010, had shown “only minimal improvement in his psychiatric condition” and that his psychotic symptoms had continued.
After this report was sent to the L-G for his opinion, Jung said the question before him was “whether in terms of moral principles, such a person can be condemned to death.”
Jung concludes his opinion as: “In many ways, it would appear as if a child without a mind and in poor health, is condemned to death for an incident he committed when his mind and body were in a completely different state. On principles of human ethics and natural justice, I cannot bring myself to recommend the rejection of the mercy petition.” Jung said his opinion should be forwarded to the President for final disposal.
Khalistan Liberation Force terrorist Bhullar was awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in Delhi in September 1993, which killed nine people and injured 25 others, including then Youth Congress president M S Bitta.