Germany seeks clemency for Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar

Devinder Pal Singh BhullarDevinder Pal Singh Bhullar
Almost a month after the Supreme Court dismissed convicted Khalistani terrorist Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar's plea that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment, German President Joachim Gauck and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle have written to their Indian counterparts seeking clemency for Bhullar.

Bhullar, who was convicted for the 1993 car bomb blast outside the Youth Congress office in the capital in which nine people were killed, was arrested and deported from Germany, a country that advocates worldwide abolition of the death penalty.

While Gauck has written to President Pranab Mukherjee, Westerwelle has sent his missive to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, the German embassy in New Delhi told The Indian Express Thursday. "As a matter of principle, Germany opposes capital punishment as it does not serve the cause of justice," German ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, said.

The plea from Gauck and Westerwelle came weeks after Bhullar's wife Navneet Kaur met German diplomats at the embassy in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum seeking Germany's intervention to help stop her husband's impending execution.

Canada-based Kaur, accompanied by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Manjit Singh GK, had told German diplomats that Bhullar was arrested at Frankfurt airport in December 1994 for travelling on fake documents and Germany had deported him to India in January 1995. But in 1997, a Frankfurt court had termed the deportation "illegal".

"Your government has always taken a stand against awarding of death penalty to Prof Bhullar. We are informed that your government had been assured by the government of India that he will not be given death penalty. Since the President of India had dismissed the first mercy petition, there is imminent threat of immediate execution of Prof Bhullar...We request you to take up this matter with the government of India and the President of India to accept clemency petitions of Prof Bhullar (sic)," the memorandum said.

However, this is not the first time the German government has approached New Delhi regarding Bhullar's case.

Following the rejection of Bhullar's mercy petition by the then President Pratibha Patil in May 2011, the then German President Christian Wulff had written to her expressing regret at Berlin's decision to have sent him back home.

Wulff had then said that "they deported Bhullar since they were unaware that he might face execution/death penalty in India contrary to German legal positions and practice," according to official records released recently by Rashtrapati Bhawan to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal.

"The German President has written that his country together with European Union advocates worldwide abolition of the death penalty. Under German law, no one could be extradited or deported from Germany who might face death penalty in his own country," the file noting had said.

A special court in the capital held Bhullar guilty in 2001 under the then controversial anti-terror law TADA, which was upheld by a majority 2:1 verdict by the Supreme Court a year later.

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