Seeking Clemency for Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar

Blog by Marina Pohrib, Legal Intern in NYC office.

This month, the European Union (EU) has appealed to India not to execute Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar.  Bhullar had been sentenced to death in 2001 by a split decision of the Supreme Court of India for a 1993 car bomb attack in New Delhi that killed 12 people and injured 29, including former Youth Congress leader M.S. Bitta.  (See EU opposes death to Bhullar, writes to Chidambaram.)

Bhullar was deported back to India from Germany in 1995, after his application for political asylum was rejected.  Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, a political activist, fled after his father, uncle and best friend were all disappeared by the Punjab police in 1991 and his family was repeatedly harassed and tortured.  (See the Sikh Activist Network for more information.)  The decision to deport him was declared illegal by a Frankfurt court two years later.  German law prohibits deportation or extradition of individuals to countries where they could be given a death sentence and tortured in custody.  German Ambassador to India Thomas Matussek recently stated that the German court that extradited him to India did so erroneously and without the full facts of the case before it.  Ambassador Matussek’s mercy petition was rejected by President Pratibha Patil last May. However, he stated that Germany will continue to appeal to the Indian government not to execute Bhullar.  The Ambassador also stated that the EU high representative Catherine Ashton has, has in a letter to Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, urged the Indian government not to hang Bhullar. (See EU opposes death to Bhullar, writes to Chidambaram and European Union opposes execution of Professor Devinderpal Singh Bhullar.)

Bhullar has been on death row since his sentence, and has been held in an isolation cell for 22 hours a day.  (See the Sikh Activist Network for more information.)  Groups such as Amnesty International have also raised serious questions about the way Bhullar’s arrest, sentencing, and trial was conducted.  The evidence used against Bhullar was a confession statement, reportedly extracted under torture and signed by a thumbprint.  At the end of his trial, “Justice M.B. Shah concluded that there was no evidence whatsoever to even convict Bhullar and that a dubious confession could not be the basis for awarding the death sentence.” (See Amnesty International, Lethal Lottery: The Death Penalty in India.)  Moreover, Bhullar was convicted under the under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), which was allowed to lapse by Parliament in 1995. (See Amnesty International, Lethal Lottery: The Death Penalty in India.)

Sikh communities and human rights activists are running a campaign asking that Bhullar’s mercy petition be accepted.  If you want to get involved, you can sign an electronic petition to seek clemency for Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and request the Honorable President of India grant Bhullar clemency and convert his death sentence to Life Imprisonment at Grant Clemency to Death Penalty Victim Devender Pal Singh Bhullar.  Also, a rally to save Professor Bhullar from “Judicial Murder” will also be held between 12 noon to 2 pm in New York City in front of United Nations Headquarters on July 25th, 2011.  Read more at Sikhs for Justice.

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  1. P Sidhu says:

    .The killers of the 1984 riots are scot free ,however Sardar Devinderpal Singh Bhullar are falsely implicated and sentenced to death.This is a travesty of Justice.

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