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Public prosecutor turns surprise ally for Bhullar

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Public prosecutor turns surprise ally for Bhullar

MittaManoj Mitta, TNN | Apr 18, 2013, 04.15 AM IST

Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar has received support from an unlikely quarter: the special public prosecutor who had appeared against him in the Supreme Court in 2002.

NEW DELHI: Even as the home ministry is examining the Punjab government's plea to commute his death penalty, Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar has received support from an unlikely quarter: the special public prosecutor who had appeared against him in the Supreme Court in 2002.

Though two of the three judges on the Supreme Court bench upheld his arguments, senior advocate Anoop G Chaudhari said that he found himself agreeing with the dissenting verdict delivered by the presiding judge, M B Shah, who had actually acquitted Bhullar.

"Surprising as it may sound, I believe that Shah was right in not accepting my submissions in support of the trial court's decision to convict Bhullar in a terror case, entirely on the basis of his confessional statement to the police," Chaudhari told TOI. "Shah refused to acquiesce to the Delhi police's presumption that they had a lot of margin for shoddy investigation because of the involvement of terror."

A former advocate general of Madhya Pradesh, Chaudhari also said that it was "most inappropriate" for the majority verdict, delivered by Justice Arijit Pasayat, to have awarded death sentence to Bhullar despite the acquittal by a member of the same bench.

In any event, this "judicial error", he said, should have been taken by the home ministry as a "strong ground" for commuting the death penalty, when it made its recommendation to the President on Bhullar's mercy petition in 2011. "Did the home ministry think that the acquittal by a Supreme Court judge was meaningless?" Chaudhari asked.

But how could he be saying all these things in Bhullar's favor, given his own role in the case? "After the judgment is delivered, I read it as a student of law and not a lawyer who appeared for one or the other party," Chaudhari said. "If I can't detach myself from the case and appreciate the judgment in its correct perspective, then I won't be honest to my profession and my conscience".

One of the major infirmities in the prosecution's case pointed out by Shah was the failure of the police to find any corroboration for Bhullar's confessional statement to them, even he had retracted it. "When Shah asked me about this lacuna during the hearings, I said that I could only argue what was on record and I could not step into the shoes of the investigating agency and explain why they had not taken the trouble of finding any corroborative evidence," Chaudhari said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Public-prosecutor-turns-surprise-ally-for-Bhullar/articleshow/19606737.cms

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