Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar: India court stays execution

File photo of protest in support of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar Image copyright AFP
Image caption There have been protests in Delhi and London in support of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar

India's top court has stayed the execution of a death row prisoner, convicted over a 1993 bomb blast in Delhi which killed nine.

Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar asked the Supreme Court to commute his sentence because there had been "an inordinate delay" in deciding his plea for mercy.

It comes after 15 prisoners had sentences commuted on similar grounds.

He has been on death row since August 2001. His plea, filed in 2002, was denied by the president in 2011.

Earlier this month 15 prisoners successfully got their death sentences commuted to life in prison on the grounds that it had taken too long for a decision to be reached in the plea for clemency.

The court added that mental illness and solitary confinement could also be reasons for commuting sentences.

Bhullar's lawyers approached the court again after this decision. They also say he cannot be hanged as he is mentally unsound.

As a result, the court has asked the hospital where Bhullar is being treated for a report on his health condition within a week.

In April 2013, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by Bhullar to commute his death sentence.

India has more than 400 convicts on death row.

Executions are rarely carried out, but in the last two years there have been two hangings in India.

Mohammed Ajmal Qasab, the sole surviving attacker from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was executed in November 2012 in a prison in the western city of Pune.

And in February 2013, a Kashmiri man, Afzal Guru, was hanged in Delhi's Tihar jail for the 2001 attack on India's parliament.

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