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Devender Pal Singh Bhullar- Death sentence commuted to life imprisonment – due to health conditions of accused and due to delay in disposing mercy petition by president = Navneet Kaur … Petitioner(s) versus State of NCT of Delhi & Anr. … Respondent(s)= 2014 (March. Part ) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41363

Devender Pal Singh Bhullar– Death sentence commuted to life imprisonment – due to health conditions of accused and due to delay in disposing mercy petition by president =

 

Learned Attorney General, taking note of the conclusion  arrived  at  in

Shatrughan Chauhan (supra) wherein this Court held that the ratio laid  down

in Devender Pal Singh Bhullar vs. State (NCT) of Delhi (2013) 6 SCC  195  is

per  incuriam,  fairly  admitted  that  applying  the  said   principle   as

enunciated  in  Shatrughan  Chauhan  (supra),  death  sentence  awarded   to

Devender Pal Singh Bhullar is liable to be commuted  to  life  imprisonment.

We appreciate the rationale stand taken  by  learned  Attorney  General  and

accept the same.

12) In  addition,  it  is  also  brought  to  our  notice  by  letter  dated

08.02.2014, which was received  by  the  Registry  on  12.02.2014  from  the

Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, that the accused  Devender

Pal Singh Bhullar was examined by the Standing Medical Board  on  05.02.2014

and the Board opined as under:

      “1.The  patient  has  been  diagnosed  with  Severe  Depression   with

      Psychotic features (Treatment Refractory Depression) with Hypertension

      with  Dyslipidemia   with   Lumbo-cervical   Spondylosis   with   Mild

      Prostatomegaly.

 

 

      2. He is currently receiving  Anti-Depressant,  Anti-Psychotic,  Anti-

      anxiety,  Anti-Hypertensives,  Hypolipedemic,   Anit-Convulsant   (for

      Neuropathic pain) and Antacid  drugs  in  adequate  doses  along  with

      supportive  psychotherapy and physiotherapy.

 

 

      3.  Patient  has  shown  partial  and  inconsistent  response  to  the

      treatment  with  significant  fluctuations  in  the  severity  of  his

      clinical condition.

 

 

      4.The treatment comprising of various combinations of  pharmacological

      and non-pharmacological treatments  have  brought  about  partial  and

      inconsistent improvement in his clinical condition in the  last  three

      years of hospitalization. The scope for effective treatment options is

      limited and thereby the chances of his recovery remain doubtful in the

      future course of his illness”.

 

 

The above report has been signed by the Director & Chairman as well as  four

Members of  the  Medical  Board.   The  report  clearly  shows  that  he  is

suffering from acute mental illness.

13)  The  three-Judge  Bench  in  Shatrughan  Chauhan  (supra)   held   that

insanity/mental  illness/schizophrenia  is  also  one  of  the   supervening

circumstances for commutation of death sentence  to  life  imprisonment.  By

applying  the  principle  enunciated  in  Shatrughan  Chauhan  (supra),  the

accused cannot be executed with the said health condition.

14) In the light of the above discussion and also   in  view  of  the  ratio

laid down in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra), we  deem  it  fit  to  commute  the

death sentence imposed on Devender Pal Singh Bhullar into life  imprisonment

both on the ground of unexplained/inordinate delay of 8  years  in  disposal

of mercy petition and on  the  ground  of  insanity.  To  this  extent,  the

Curative Petition stands allowed.

2014 (March. Part ) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41363

P SATHASIVAM, R.M. LODHA, H.L. DATTU, SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

INHERENT JURISDICTION
CURATIVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 88 OF 2013
IN
REVIEW PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 435 OF 2013
IN
WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 146 OF 2011
Navneet Kaur … Petitioner(s)

versus

State of NCT of Delhi & Anr. … Respondent(s)

 

J U D G M E N T
P.Sathasivam, CJI.

1) Navneet Kaur w/o Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, filed the present Curative
Petition against the dismissal of Review Petition (Criminal) No.435 of 2013
in Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 146 of 2011 on 13.08.2013, wherein she
prayed for setting aside the death sentence imposed upon Devender Pal Singh
Bhullar by commuting the same to imprisonment for life on the ground of
supervening circumstance of delay of 8 years in disposal of mercy petition.

2) Considering the limited issue involved, there is no need to traverse all
the factual details. The brief background of the case is: By judgment dated
25.08.2001, Devender Pal Singh Bhullar was sentenced to death by the
Designated Judge, Delhi. Thereafter, he preferred an appeal being Criminal
Appeal No. 993 of 2001 before this Court and by judgment dated 22.03.2002,
this Court confirmed the death sentence and dismissed his appeal. Against
the dismissal of the appeal by this Court, the accused preferred Review
Petition (Criminal) No. 497 of 2002, which was also dismissed by this Court
on 17.12.2002.
3) Soon after the dismissal of the review petition, the accused submitted a
mercy petition dated 14.01.2003 to the President of India under Article 72
of the Constitution and prayed for commutation of his sentence. During the
pendency of the petition filed under Article 72, he also filed Curative
Petition (Criminal) No. 5 of 2003 which was also dismissed by this Court on
12.03.2003.
4) On 30.05.2011, a communication was sent from the Joint Secretary
(Judicial) to the Principal Secretary, Home Department, Government of NCT
of Delhi, stating that the President of India has rejected the mercy
petition submitted on behalf of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar. The same was
also communicated to the Superintendent, Central Jail No. 3, Tihar Jail,
New Delhi on 13.06.2011.
5) On 24.06.2011, the wife of the accused (petitioner herein) preferred a
Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 146 of 2011 before this Court praying for
quashing the communication dated 13.06.2011. By order dated 12.04.2013,
this Court, after examining and analyzing the materials brought on record
by the respondents, arrived at the conclusion that there was an
unreasonable delay of 8 years in disposal of mercy petition, which is one
of the grounds for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment as
per the established judicial precedents. However, this Court dismissed the
writ petition on the ground that when the accused is convicted under TADA,
there is no question of showing any sympathy or considering supervening
circumstances for commutation of death sentence.
6) Aggrieved by the said dismissal, the wife of the accused preferred
Review Petition being (Criminal) No. 435 of 2013 which was also dismissed
by this Court on 13.08.2013. Subsequently, the wife of the accused,
petitioner herein has filed the above Curative Petition for consideration
by this Court.
7) Heard Mr. KTS Tulsi, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the
petitioner and Mr. G.E. Vahanvati, learned Attorney General for India
appearing on behalf of the respondents.
8) Very recently, a three-Judge Bench of this Court, in Writ Petition
(Criminal) No. 55 of 2013 Etc., titled Shatrughan Chauhan & Anr. vs. Union
of India & Ors., 2014 (1) SCALE 437, by order dated 21.01.2014, commuted
the sentence of death imposed on the petitioners therein to imprisonment
for life which has a crucial bearing for deciding the petition at hand. In
the aforesaid verdict, this Court validated the established principle and
held that unexplained/unreasonable/inordinate delay in disposal of mercy
petition is one of the supervening circumstances for commutation of death
sentence to life imprisonment.
9) While deciding the aforesaid issue in the above decision, the Bench was
simultaneously called upon to decide a specific issue viz., whether is
there a rationality in distinguishing between an offence under Indian Penal
Code, 1860 and Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act for
considering the supervening circumstance for commutation of death sentence
to life imprisonment, which was the point of law decided in Writ Petition
(Criminal) No. 146 of 2011.
10) The larger Bench in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra), after taking note of
various aspects including the constitutional right under Article 21 as well
as the decision rendered by the Constitution Bench in Triveniben vs. State
of Gujarat (1988) 4 SCC 574, held:
“57) From the analysis of the arguments of both the counsel, we are of
the view that only delay which could not have been avoided even if the
matter was proceeded with a sense of urgency or was caused in
essential preparations for execution of sentence may be the relevant
factors under such petitions in Article 32. Considerations such as the
gravity of the crime, extraordinary cruelty involved therein or some
horrible consequences for society caused by the offence are not
relevant after the Constitution Bench ruled in Bachan Singh vs. State
of Punjab (1980) 2 SCC 684 that the sentence of death can only be
imposed in the rarest of rare cases. Meaning, of course, all death
sentences imposed are impliedly the most heinous and barbaric and
rarest of its kind. The legal effect of the extraordinary depravity of
the offence exhausts itself when court sentences the person to death
for that offence. Law does not prescribe an additional period of
imprisonment in addition to the sentence of death for any such
exceptional depravity involved in the offence.
58) As rightly pointed out by Mr. Ram Jethmalani, it is open to the
legislature in its wisdom to decide by enacting an appropriate law
that a certain fixed period of imprisonment in addition to the
sentence of death can be imposed in some well defined cases but the
result cannot be accomplished by a judicial decision alone. The
unconstitutionality of this additional incarceration is itself
inexorable and must not be treated as dispensable through a judicial
decision.”
*** *** ***
“64) In the light of the same, we are of the view that the ratio laid
down in Devender Pal Singh Bhullar (supra) is per incuriam. There is
no dispute that in the same decision this Court has accepted the ratio
enunciated in Triveniben (supra) (Constitution Bench) and also noted
some other judgments following the ratio laid down in those cases that
unexplained long delay may be one of the grounds for commutation of
sentence of death into life imprisonment. There is no good reason to
disqualify all TADA cases as a class from relief on account of delay
in execution of death sentence. Each case requires consideration on
its own facts.”
*** *** ***

“70) Taking guidance from the above principles and in the light of the
ratio enunciated in Triveniben (Supra), we are of the view that
unexplained delay is one of the grounds for commutation of sentence of
death into life imprisonment and the said supervening circumstance is
applicable to all types of cases including the offences under TADA.
The only aspect the Courts have to satisfy is that the delay must be
unreasonable and unexplained or inordinate at the hands of the
executive. The argument of Mr. Luthra, learned ASG that a distinction
can be drawn between IPC and non-IPC offences since the nature of the
offence is a relevant factor is liable to be rejected at the outset.
In view of our conclusion, we are unable to share the views expressed
in Devender Pal Singh Bhullar (supra).”
11) Learned Attorney General, taking note of the conclusion arrived at in
Shatrughan Chauhan (supra) wherein this Court held that the ratio laid down
in Devender Pal Singh Bhullar vs. State (NCT) of Delhi (2013) 6 SCC 195 is
per incuriam, fairly admitted that applying the said principle as
enunciated in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra), death sentence awarded to
Devender Pal Singh Bhullar is liable to be commuted to life imprisonment.
We appreciate the rationale stand taken by learned Attorney General and
accept the same.
12) In addition, it is also brought to our notice by letter dated
08.02.2014, which was received by the Registry on 12.02.2014 from the
Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, that the accused Devender
Pal Singh Bhullar was examined by the Standing Medical Board on 05.02.2014
and the Board opined as under:
“1.The patient has been diagnosed with Severe Depression with
Psychotic features (Treatment Refractory Depression) with Hypertension
with Dyslipidemia with Lumbo-cervical Spondylosis with Mild
Prostatomegaly.
2. He is currently receiving Anti-Depressant, Anti-Psychotic, Anti-
anxiety, Anti-Hypertensives, Hypolipedemic, Anit-Convulsant (for
Neuropathic pain) and Antacid drugs in adequate doses along with
supportive psychotherapy and physiotherapy.
3. Patient has shown partial and inconsistent response to the
treatment with significant fluctuations in the severity of his
clinical condition.
4.The treatment comprising of various combinations of pharmacological
and non-pharmacological treatments have brought about partial and
inconsistent improvement in his clinical condition in the last three
years of hospitalization. The scope for effective treatment options is
limited and thereby the chances of his recovery remain doubtful in the
future course of his illness”.
The above report has been signed by the Director & Chairman as well as four
Members of the Medical Board. The report clearly shows that he is
suffering from acute mental illness.
13) The three-Judge Bench in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra) held that
insanity/mental illness/schizophrenia is also one of the supervening
circumstances for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment. By
applying the principle enunciated in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra), the
accused cannot be executed with the said health condition.
14) In the light of the above discussion and also in view of the ratio
laid down in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra), we deem it fit to commute the
death sentence imposed on Devender Pal Singh Bhullar into life imprisonment
both on the ground of unexplained/inordinate delay of 8 years in disposal
of mercy petition and on the ground of insanity. To this extent, the
Curative Petition stands allowed.
……………………….…………………………CJI.
(P. SATHASIVAM)

 

 

 
………………………….…………………………J.
(R. M. LODHA)

 
………………………….…………………………J.
(H.L. DATTU)
………………………….…………………………J.
(SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)
NEW DELHI;
MARCH 31, 2014.
———————–
8

 

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