As groups prepare to protest against the death sentence awarded to Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, convicted for his involvement in carrying out a bomb attack in the capital in 1993, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal met with the Prime Minister to seek clemency for him.
“We met the PM to ask for clemency for Bhullar. This would disturb Punjab’s peaceful atmosphere,” Badal said after meeting with Manmohan Singh this morning.
When asked if he had appealed on the grounds of a potential deterioration of the law and order situation in the state, Badal said, “Yes…In the whole country as well, but particularly in Punjab.”
Citing law and order situation in Punjab, Badal said, “I have the experience of how much the country has lost due to incorrect decisions. In the interest of the state, in the interest of the country, we are asking to stop it,” he said referring to the impending execution of Bhullar.
The memorandum submitted by Badal and his deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal to the Prime Minister on behalf of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said, “The process must be started for finding ways to ensure that the ends of justice do not clash with the long term interests of the nation…In the overall national interest and in the interest of peace and communal harmony in the country in general and Punjab in particular, the death penalty in this case may be commuted into life imprisonment.”
The memorandum said in matters relating to death penalty, “there is legal and constitutional requirement for putting the case beyond all reasonable doubt. This was clearly not done in the case of Bhullar.”
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said the government was studying the representation to the Prime Minister on Bhullar issue.
The two also separately met Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
Rejecting suggestions that commuting Bhullar’s death sentence will send a ‘wrong’ message, senior Badal said the state needs peace and harmony the most.
“See, you do not understand. What we need most is peace and harmony. If it affects peace and harmony, it will become an emotive issue. We are warning the government that people are emotional. Moreover, he is in a poor health condition… what will they gain by hanging him,” the Chief Minister said.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) veteran claimed if the Centre or a state government commits even a small mistake, it has to “pay the price”.
Bhullar has exhausted all his legal options against the death sentence with the Supreme Court rejecting his appeal that he could not be executed given the delay in carrying it out. The President had rejected his plea in 2011.
Badal said that they had also pointed out to the Prime Minister that under law the death sentence cannot be implemented if the person is unwell and in this case Bhullar had been diagnosed as suffering from mental ailments.