Badal, Sukhbir meets Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
New Delhi/Chandigarh April 15 (BharatSandesh News):– The Shiromani Akali Dal today requested immediate intervention of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for getting death sentence of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar commuted to life imprisonment.
The Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD’s patron in chief and president respectively, met the Prime Minister at his residence here this morning and requested him to approach the President Pranab Mukherjee to stay any further action on the execution of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar and to get his death penalty commuted to life imprisonment.”
“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 and with the objectives and operation of statesman-like approach in such sensitive matters. In the overall national interest and in the interest of peace and communal harmony in the country in general and in Punjab in particular, the death penalty in this case may be commuted into life imprisonment,” said the memorandum submitted by the SAD leaders to the Prime Minister.
The SAD leaders also referred to the psychological and emotional fall out of the case and said that they were “deeply concerned” over these implications. “While we are deeply committed to maintaining peace and communal harmony in the state, the governments have no control over the emotional and psychological damage that such a case can inflict on collective social psyche. This damage must be avoided at all costs.”
The memorandum further said that the SAD and the government in Punjab “ are committed to maintaining peace and communal harmony in the state at all costs. But we are firmly of the view that it is the sacred duty of all governments to create and safeguard conditions conducive to the maintenance of peace, communal harmony. Nothing should be done that poses a danger to these sacred values of peace and communal harmony.”
The two leaders apprised the Prime Minister of widespread perception of the issue, and while law of the land should be upheld, it must be seen to have been upheld “uniformly” for everyone and for all sections of society. Justice should not only be done but must also be seen to have been done,” they said. They described the latest developments in the sequence of events connected with the case as “deeply painful, unfortunate and worrying”.
The SAD memorandum pointed out that in matters relating to “the extreme penalty of death, there is legal and constitutional requirement for putting the case “beyond all reasonable doubt.” This was clearly not done in the case of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar. The presiding judge of the Bench of the Supreme Court that decided the appeal in this case had recommended acquittal of Bhullar and delivered a strong note of dissent. Because of this, the case no longer remains “beyond all reasonable doubt.” The dissenting note of the presiding judge can not be taken lightly as this puts a serious question mark over the extreme quantum of punishment in the case. Since a death sentence can never be reversed once it is executed, there is an urgent need to exercise extreme caution in the matter,” more so in the light of the verdict not being unanimous,” said the SAD Chief Patron and President
Arguing that Bhullar’s case could not be seen as just one of many such cases, the SAD leaders pointed out “that even the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India had requested the President to commute the death penalty of Bhullar to life imprisonment. This and the observations of the Presiding judge and several other factors make this case quite unique and distinct from similar other cases in the country.”
Making a strong plea for “going beyond strictly litigtory approach”, the SAD leaders drew the PM’s attention to constitutional provisions not only justifying but also pleading for going above and beyond such an approach in cases having wider social implications. “The Founding Fathers of the Constitution had created the post-judicial mechanism of presidential intervention against carrying out court verdicts in sensitive cases precisely for such situations. This fact must not be overlooked in our haste to limit our options to merely strict and narrow dimensions of litigation processes.”
Mr. India and Mr. Sukhbir Singh also referred to reports that the doctor attending to Bhullar had expressed serious concern over his health. They said that legal and constitutional propriety demanded that the death penalty against Bhullar should not be executed because of the condition of his health. “The long years spent by Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar in jail and the condition of his health is well known to all.” Mr. Bhullar has been ailing for over two years as per the statement of his doctor.
The Memorandum also referred to “reports that a large number of independent, responsible and representative individuals and bodies have been moving the Hon’ble President of India to make a statesman-like intervention in the matter even at this stage. This makes it not just an individual case but one that has wide social and emotional implications. As such, the case requires to be handled with an approach which transcends the narrow litigatory interpretations”, the SAD Memorandum said, making a strong appeal to the PM for immediate intervention.
Advisor to the Chief Minister on National Affairs and Media Mr. Harcharan Bains was also present on the occasion.