Justice Markandey Katju appeals for Prof. Bhullar; Points out legal flaws of case, opposes execution

Published: May 18, 2013

New Delhi, India (May 18, 2013): It is learnt that the Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju has written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking pardon for Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar whose execution was cleared by Supreme Court of India on April 12 despite substantial and procedural legal flaws. A copy of petition submitted by Justice (retd.) Markandey Katju has been accessed by Sikh Siyasat News (and it’s reproduced below this post).

J. Katju said that Bhullar has been in detention since his arrival in India in January 1995 i.e. over 18 years and added that he had suffered prolonged mental agony and trauma for this long period in death row with a Damocles’ sword hanging over his head. Assigning reasons behind his plea, Katju said Supreme Court had earlier rejected Bhullar’s appeal against his death sentence by a 2-1 majority, not by a unanimous decision and added that the senior most judge on the bench Justice MB Shah had acquitted Bhullar.

Justice (retd.) Katju said that he had perused the judgement of Justice Shah who had noticed that the only evidence against Bhullar is his alleged confessional statement to the investigating office. Justice Shah has observed that “when the rest of the accused who are named in the confessional statement are not convicted or tried, this was not a fit case for convicting the appellant solely on the basis of the so called confessional statement recorded by the police officer”, Katju wrote.

Justice (retd.) Katju said Justice Shah noticed in his judgement there was nothing to corroborate Bhullar’s confession.

He added that Justice Shah noticed in his judgement that there was nothing on record to corroborate the aforesaid alleged confessional statement. Katju’s letter said that when rest of the accused who are named in the confessional statement are not convicted or tried, this would not be a fit case for convicting the appellant solely on the basis of so-called confessional statement recorded by the police officer.

Mr. Markandey Katju said that the majority view of the bench has to be accepted as the judgement of the court but added that the considerations under Article 72/161 of the Constitution were different from those in judicial proceeding. Katju said that Bhullar had been having some chronic psychiatric problem and sought pardon for him.

Mr. Katju said that in its judgement of 2002 by a 2-1 majority, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence to Bhullar. Thereafter, the Presidential review petition under Article 72 Constitution of India was rejected.

He then filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the order rejecting his Presidential review petition on the ground of delay in the proceeding but that petition was rejected by the Supreme Court on April 12. Katju said that he was appealing as there is nothing in Article 72 Constitution of India to debar a second constitutional review petition if the first has been rejected.

Appeal for Pardon/Commutation of Death Sentence to Devender Pal Singh Bhullar – by Justice (retd.) Markandey Katju:

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