New Delhi, Feb. 5: Delhi High Court today asked the Centre to explain its position on the question of granting pardon to Briton Peter Bleach, one of the six convicts in the 1995 Purulia arms drop case.
Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice S.K. Aggarwal asked additional solicitor-general K.K. Sood to present the government’s stand on the issue on February 24 while adjourning the writ petition filed by Calcutta-based legal activist Deepak Prahladka.
Prahladka had pleaded with the President that Bleach should be released as the five convicted Latvians, who faced similar charges, had been let off in July 2000 on the ground of “bilateral relations between India and Russia”.
Prahladka, who was present at the hearing, said the bench asked Sood that if the Russians could be granted remission, why not Bleach. Was there no bilateral relations between India and the UK, the judges had asked.
After the release of the five Latvians, Prahladka had sent a petition to the President, saying the British national was entitled to the same remission to maintain equality before the law under Article 14 of the Constitution. The President forwarded the petition in August 2000 to the Union home ministry. A year later, the ministry sent him a letter, saying the petition had been rejected by the President without assigning any reason.
Prahladka wrote to the President for a review in September 2001, citing a ruling of the Supreme Court that every government action had to be justified by a reason. The President accepted it and again forwarded it to the home ministry. Since then he has not heard from the government, claims Prahladka.