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Business News/ News / India/  Bilkis Bano case: SC to hear plea against 'premature' release of convicts

Bilkis Bano case: SC to hear plea against 'premature' release of convicts

A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna will hear the case.

Supreme Court of India, Premium
Supreme Court of India,

The Supreme Court of Monday will hear a batch of pleas challenging the premature release of 11 convicts who had gang-raped Bilkis Bano and murdered her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots.

The Supreme Court will hear a group of petitions challenging the early release of 11 convicts who were involved in the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of her family members during the Godhra riots in 2002 on Mach 27.

A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna will hear the case.

On Wednesday the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said that he will constitute a bench to hear pleas.

"I will have a bench constituted. Need to break two benches for it. Will look at it this evening," Chandrachud said after advocate Shobha Gupta, appearing for Bano, mentioned the plea for an early listing of the case.

Advocate Gupta had previously requested an urgent hearing for the matter and stated that a new bench needed to be formed by the Chief Justice of India, as Justice Bela M Trivedi had withdrawn from hearing the plea.

The previous bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi had directed that the case be scheduled for a hearing before a bench that did not include Justice Trivedi due to her recusal from the case. 

Apart from her petition challenging the premature release of the convicts, Bilkis Bano had also filed a review petition asking for a reevaluation of the court's prior order, which had instructed the Gujarat government to examine the request for the release of one of the convicts.

The review petition was dismissed.

Some PILs were filed seeking directions to revoke the remission granted to 11 convicts.

The pleas were filed by the National Federation of Indian Women, whose General Secretary is Annie Raja, Member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Subhashini Ali, journalist Revati Laul, social activist and professor Roop Rekha Verma and TMC MP Mahua Moitra.

The Gujarat government defended the remission provided to the convicts in its affidavit, stating that they had served 14 years in jail, and their conduct had been satisfactory. 

According to the government, it had evaluated the cases of all 11 convicts based on the 1992 policy, and they were granted remission on August 10, 2022. The Central government had also authorized the convicts' premature release.

It is pertinent to note that the remission was not granted under the circular governing grant of remission to prisoners as part of the celebration of "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav", it had said.

The affidavit stated, "State government considered all the opinions and decided to release 11 prisoners since they have completed 14 years and above in prisons and their behaviour was found to be good."

The government had also questioned the locus standi of petitioners who filed the PIL challenging the decision saying they are outsiders to the case.

The pleas said they have challenged the order of competent authority of the government of Gujarat by way of which 11 persons who were accused in a set of heinous offences committed in Gujarat were allowed to walk free on August 15, 2022, pursuant to remission being extended to them.

The remission in this heinous case would be entirely against public interest and would shock the collective public conscience, as also be entirely against the interests of the victim (whose family has publicly made statements worrying for her safety), pleas stated.

The 11 convicts, who had been serving life sentences, were released by the Gujarat government on August 15. They were released in accordance with the remission policy that was in effect in Gujarat at the time of their conviction in 2008.

 The brutal incident took place in March 2002 during the post-Godhra riots when Bilkis Bano, who was five months pregnant at the time, was gang-raped, and her entire family, including her three-year-old daughter, was attacked by rioters in Vadodara.


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Published: 24 Mar 2023, 09:18 PM IST
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