Defending recent rulings of the Supreme Court commuting death sentences of several convicts to life imprisonment, Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam on Monday said the mercy petitions were kept pending for so many years and therefore the apex court modified them.
"You must read our judgment. Those mercy petitions were kept pending for 12-13 years. That's why we modified it based on article 21 and international treaties," said the CJI Sathasivam.
Earlier today, the apex court commuted the death sentence of convict, Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, in the 1993 bomb blast in New Delhi, which killed 12 people and injured 29 others, to life imprisonment.
The government had told the apex Court on Thursday that it had no problem with the commutation of death penalty of Bhullar.
Bhullar, a Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) militant, was sentenced to death in 2001 for causing a car bomb.
The government said that a delay in the deciding mercy plea was ground enough for commutation of his death sentence.
Earlier in January, the court stayed Bhullar's execution and had agreed to review its earlier judgement in which it had rejected convict's plea to commute his death sentence.
On January 21, the Supreme Court of India commuted the sentences of 15 death convicts to life imprisonment, due to delays in their execution.
The death penalty of 13 condemned prisoners has been commuted to life because of delay on part of President to decide their mercy pleas.
The other two were given life sentence after it was revealed that the imprisonment, while awaiting their sentence, had turned them mentally ill.