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Supreme Court Dismisses Bilkis Bano's Review Petition Challenging Release Of 11 Convicts

In her plea, Bilkis Bano had said the Supreme Court’s view that Gujarat had the 'appropriate government' to decide on releasing the convicts stood contrary to provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Bilkis Bano
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The Supreme Court on Saturday dismissed the review petition filed by Bilkis Bano challenging the release of 11 men who were convicted of gang-raping her and killing her family members during the Gujarat riots of 2002. The order was passed by a bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath.

In May 2022, a bench comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath had ruled that the Gujarat Government had the jurisdiction to consider the remission request as the offence took place in Gujarat. The bench further directed the Gujarat Government to decide the application as per the remission policy of 1992 within a period of two months, reports LiveLaw.

Citing Section 432(7)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which says that the government of the state within which the offender is sentenced has to consider remission as well, Bano in her plea had said the Supreme Court’s view that Gujarat had the “appropriate government” to decide on releasing the convicts stood contrary to provisions of the code.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain submissions seeking an early setting up of a fresh bench to hear Bilkis Bano's plea challenging the remission of the sentence of the 11 convicts.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha was urged by lawyer Shobha Gupta, appearing for Bano, that another bench needed to be constituted to hear the case. “The writ (petition) will be listed. Please, do not keep mentioning the same thing again and again. It is very irritating,” the CJI said.

Supreme Court judge Bela M Trivedi on Tuesday recused herself from hearing a plea filed by Bano. The CJI will now have to set up a fresh bench, of which Justice Trivedi will not be a part, to hear Bano’s case. All 11 convicts were granted remission by the state government and released on August 15 this year.

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among seven family members killed at that time. The investigation in the case was handed over to the CBI and the trial was transferred to a Maharashtra court by the Supreme Court.

A special CBI court in Mumbai had on January 21, 2008, sentenced the 11 to life imprisonment. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. The 11 men convicted in the case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. They had completed more than 15 years in jail. 

(with PTI inputs)

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