'Be ready with relevant files on remission of convicts': SC to Gujarat govt on Bilkis Bano's plea

During the hearing of the plea filed by Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped, the bench observed that it would not be overwhelmed by emotions in the case and would only go by the law.

Published: 27th March 2023 06:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2023 06:45 PM   |  A+A-


Bilkis Bano with her family. (File| EPS)

By Agencies

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Centre, Gujarat government and others on a plea filed by Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped and seven members of her family were killed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

Bano has challenged remission of sentence of 11 convicts in the case.

While posting the matter for hearing on April 18, a bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna said there is a gamut of issues involved and it needs to hear the matter in detail. 

Justice Joseph observed that the court has many murder cases before it, where convicts are languishing in jails for remission without years and queried if is this a case where standards have been applied uniformly as in other cases.

During the hearing in the matter, the bench orally observed that the offence was "horrendous".

The top court issued a notice to the Centre, the Gujarat government and the convicts.

It also directed the Gujarat government to be ready with the relevant files granting remission to the parties on the next date of the hearing.

During the hearing, the bench observed that it would not be overwhelmed by emotions in the case and would only go by the law.

Advocate Shobha Gupta, representing Bilkis Bano, submitted that the state (Maharashtra), where the trial was held should decide on the remission of the convicts, and not the state where offence was committed.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, representing one of the petitioners, contended that the trial judge said no remission should be granted and also the CBI said that remission should not be given, yet the convicts were released.

Grover also informed the court, while on parole, another case of molestation of a woman was filed against one of the convicts and this was completely ignored while granting remission.

On January 4, a bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi took up the petition filed by Bano and other pleas.

However, Justice Trivedi recused from hearing the case without citing any reason.

Bano had moved the apex court on November 30 last year challenging the "premature" release of 11 lifers by the state government, saying it has "shaken the conscience of society."

In the plea, Bilkis Bano said: "The premature release of all the convicts came as a shock not only to the petitioner, to her grown up daughters, to her family, but also to the society at large, nationally and internationally, and the society across segments had shown their anger, disappointment, distrust and protest to the clemency shown by the Government by releasing criminals like the 11 convicts of the case."

Terming the release order mechanical, the plea contended that the premature release of the convicts in much talked about case of Bilkis Bano, has shaken the conscience of the society and resulted in several agitations across the country.

Besides the plea challenging the release of the convicts, the gang rape survivor had also filed a separate petition seeking a review of the apex court's May 13, 2022, order on a plea by a convict.

The review plea was later dismissed in December last year.

All 11 convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government and released on August 15 last year.

A batch of petitions have been filed against the release of the 11 convicts, including the one filed by Bilkis Bano. The other petitions were filed by CPI-M leader Subhashini Ali, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, National Federation of Indian Women, Meeran Chadha Borwankar and others, Asma Shafique Shaikh, and others.

The top court has issued notice on all the pleas filed in the matter.


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(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

India Matters


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