New Delhi, India (May 24, 2013): According to media reports a medical board, constituted by the Delhi government to ascertain the health condition of Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, who is facing threat of imminent execution in India, has submitted it’s report to the concerned government.
It is notable that after the Supreme Court rejected commutation plea moved on behalf of Prof. Bhullar, the Delhi government had constituted a medical board to ascertain his present condition.
Prof. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar
Actually after the court order, Tihar jail authorities had reprotedly questioned Prof. Bhullar’s admission at Institute for Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) and had sought formation of a medical board comprising members from other hospitals, excluding IHBAS.
Accordingly a three-member board comprised chairperson Dr S. K. Khandelwal of AIIMS, and a psychiatrist each from Maulana Azad Medical College and G. B. Pant Hospital was constituted.
As per Indian Express (IE): the medical board has come to the conclusion that Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar suffers from severe depression with psychotic symptoms and suicidal tendencies.
It is notable that the jail manual states that a death row convict has to be declared physically and mentally fit before execution.
But recently there were reports in media with reference to unnamed Government and Tihar Jail sources that fitness clause in Jail manual is just a matter of procedure and could not stall execution of death sentence permanently.
It is notable that the Supreme Court of India (SCI) had admitted the proof of deteriorated health condition of Prof. Bhullar but had strangely noted that even in that condition he could be executed.
Para 46 of April 12, 2013 decision of the SCI reads as follows:
“Though the documents produced by Shri 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”.
[Para 46. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar vs. State of N.C.T. of Delhi;
WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) D.NO. 16039 OF 2011].
According to Indian Express (IE): sources in the Home department told IE on May 23, 2013 that the report of the medical board had been forwarded to Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna for further action.
“The medical board Bhullar suicidal, has psychiatric disorder, medical board concludes found that he suffered from a psychiatric disorder with suicidal implications. They basically confirmed what he was being treated for at the Institute for Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) where Bhullar has been admitted since December 2010,” a Delhi Home official reportedly said.
“According to the jail manual, a death row convict has to be declared physically and mentally fit before the sentence is carried out”, the IE report reads further.
But the final decision in this regard lies with the government that may decide to execute even a sick person also.
As per IE news report: a Tihar Jail officer said “The Tihar Jail manual clearly states that no sick person or someone suffering from a serious illness is to be hanged. It is up to the recommendation of the government. It has to take a decision based on the medical board’s report”.
He reportedly added that the decision to hang a convict declared sick would be the discretion of the government.
IE report further notes that: [t]he legal position, a lawyer said, is that the court is concerned only about the state of mind of the accused at the time of offence and not thereafter.
“The medical report has been forwarded to higher authorities who will now take a final decision,” an official in the Delhi’s Home Department said.
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