Activists unhappy over Bhullar verdict

April 13, 2013

They are campaigning for abolition of capital punishment

The Supreme Court ruling on Friday that delay in deciding the mercy petition of a prisoner sentenced to death was no grounds to commute the sentence to life imprisonment, has come as disappointment to human rights activists campaigning for abolition of capital punishment.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the plea of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, a Khalistan Liberation Force terrorist condemned to hang for triggering a bomb blast that killed nine people in Delhi in 1993, that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment due to inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition.

The ruling has stirred a debate on what impact it will have on the fate of four of Veerappan’s aides languishing in Belgaum jail whose mercy petition was rejected by the President. But the execution of the death sentence was stayed by the Supreme Court pending the disposal of the petition involving Bhullar seeking commuting death sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds of delay in carrying out the original sentence.

Gnanaprakash, Bilavendran, Simon and Meesekara Madaiah were awarded life sentence by the designated TADA court in September 2001 but the Supreme Court, in 2004, enhanced the punishment to death sentence as the four were found guilty of plotting and carrying out the Palar blast in which 21 policemen were killed in April 1993.

Their mercy petition before the President remained undecided for nine years till Pranab Mukherjee rejected it in February this year.

SICHREM stand

Speaking to The Hindu , Mathew Philips, South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), said that the ruling came as a disappointment because as defenders of human rights they were against capital punishment.

“Even in the United Nations there is growing consensus towards abolishing the death sentence and the judicial system should take cognisance of the emerging views against death penalty and come out with a ruling that facilitates its abolition,” he added.

Human rights activist and advocate M. Ramesh of Belgaum said that the decision of the Supreme Court in the Bhullar case should not be interpreted that it would have the same impact on the fate of the four Veerappan aides as the grounds in the two cases were different.

Sharing his views, he said that there were other reasons being prayed for before the court and not just the element of inordinate delay. “All the four convicts were first sentenced to life imprisonment which runs for a period of 14 years but they have served a term which is much more than that. The rejection of the mercy petition by the President’s office came nearly after nine years,” he said.


Muthulakshmi joins protest against death sentence

February 20, 2013

Slain forest brigand Veerappan’s wife Muthulakshmi on Tuesday expressed her solidarity with the human right activists who are seeking  commutation of the death sentence of his four associates.

Participating in a demonstration held in front of Town Hall here, Muthulakshmi said people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu should forget their differences and join hands to save lives of the four convicts.

“Media and government is projecting the four men as Veerappan’s associates.  In fact, these men were lifted from their homes and sent to jail. Nobody, including the police, have an idea of what happened inside the forest during Veerappan’s time,” she said.
South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), People’s Union for Civil Liberties  and other human rights organisations under the banner of National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations, Karnataka chapter, participated in the protest.

Memorandum submitted

Later, members of these organisations submitted a memorandum to Governor H R Bharadwaj.

Mathews Philip, executive director, SICHREM said execution by hanging was a crime in civil society.

“We are not against punishment for wrong doers. But, the method of punishment is what we are opposing,” he said. 

Source: Deccan Herald; Dated: 20 February 2013