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SC Issues Notice To Centre, Gujarat On Bilkis Bano's Plea Against Remission Of Gang-rape Convicts

Bilkis Bano was gangraped during the Gujarat Riots and seven members of her family were killed. Eleven men were sentenced to life imprisonment in the case in 2008. All of these 11 convicts were released last year when Gujarat government remitted their sentence.

Bilkis Bano after her 11 rapists were freed on August 15
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The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Centre and Gujarat government on a plea filed by Bilkis Bano challenging the remission of sentence of 11 convicts in the gang-rape 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. It 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.

Earlier, the pleas came up before the apex court but could not be taken up as one of the judges recused. On March 22, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had directed the matter for urgent listing and had agreed to constitute a new bench. 

Meanwhile, on Saturday, The Indian Express reported that Shailesh Bhatt, one of the 11 convicts, shared the stage with BJP’s Dahod MP Jasvantsinh Bhabhor and his brother Shailesh Bhabhor, BJP MLA from Limkheda, at groundbreaking ceremony of a Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) project in a village in Dahod district.

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. Seven members of Bilkis Bano's family were also killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots. 

In its May 13, 2022 order, the apex court had asked the state government to consider the plea of a convict for premature release in terms of its policy of July 9, 1992 which was applicable on the date of conviction and decide it within a period of two months.

All 11 convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government and released on August 15, last year. Bano's review plea against the May 13, 2022 order, however, was dismissed by the top court in December last year.

(With inputs from PTI) 

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