Bhullar docs say not consulted

Death row convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, whose plea for commuting his sentence to a life term was rejected by the Supreme Court on Friday, is being treated at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in Delhi for nearly three years now.

Hours after the verdict, doctors at the institute said their medical opinion on Bhullar was never sought. They maintained that their diagnosis of "depression with psychotic features" still stands, and that Bhullar has a "tendency of suicidal behaviour".

Dr Nimesh Desai, Director of IHBAS, said: "As per norms, if and when there is an order by a court for medical opinion on any of our prisoners, we constitute a medical board that puts together a cumulative opinion. In Bhullar's case, such a board was never constituted because there was no order from the judiciary."

In its judgment, the Supreme Court took note of a September 2011 medical certificate issued by Dr Rajesh Kumar of IHBAS. The court said that documents produced by Bhullar's counsel K T S Tulsi "do give an indication that on account of prolonged detention in jail after his conviction and sentence to death, the petitioner has suffered physically and mentally, the same cannot be relied upon for recording a finding that the petitioner's mental health has deteriorated to such an extent that the sentence awarded to him cannot be executed".

When his comments were sought Friday, Tulsi said: "My client's doctors were never summoned to ascertain his medical condition... the few documents I submitted were part of the records the hospital sent to the jail in September 2011. No subsequent summons were issued to his doctors to take their opinion in the last two years."

Asked whether Bhullar could be hanged before doctors declared him mentally fit, Director General (Prisons) Vimla Mehra declined comment. Tihar Jail officials said they were still examining the judgment.

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