Three convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case, Govindhbhai Nai, Ramesh Rupabhai Chandana and Mitesh Chimanlal Bhat, have moved the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time to surrender.
Their pleas will be heard on January 19.
The appeal for extension was mentioned before a bench of Justices B V Nagarathana and Sanjay Karol. It asked the Registry to seek orders from Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud to constitute a bench with Justice Ujjal Bhuiyan to hear the petitions on Friday.
“It is stated by three respondents that applications have been filed for an extension of time to surrender and report to jail. Since the bench has to be reconstituted, registry to seek orders from CJI for reconstitution of the bench since time expires on Sunday,” the bench said.
A News18.com report said that Nai sought time of four weeks to surrender; Chandana and Bhat asked for six weeks.
Nai cited ill health and domestic responsibilities for the time extension, the Bar and Bench report said.
He added that Nai’s father is bedridden. Further, he submitted that he had undergone an angiography recently and an operation for haemorrhoids.
Chandana said he had to get his son married. Bhat has claimed his winter produce is ready for harvest – he desired to complete the process before surrendering.
The Supreme Court Observer (SCO) describes the case: “At the height of the infamous Gujarat Riots in February 2002, Ms. Bilkis Bano and her family fled from their home in Randhikpur village. On March 3rd, 2002, they reached Chappawrwad village but were ambushed by an armed mob. The men gangraped Ms. Bano and, reportedly, murdered seven members of her family including her infant daughter. She approached the local police to file a complaint. However, the police initially refused to lodge an FIR. When they finally deigned to do so, the police omitted several important details including the names of many of the assailants.”
The Supreme Court had made poignant observations about the ruling BJP government in Gujarat for acting in tandem with the prisoners to order their early release after usurping the power to do so.
A woman deserves respect howsoever high or low she may be otherwise considered in society or to whatever faith she may follow or any creed she may belong to. Can heinous crimes against women permit remission of the convicts by a reduction in their sentence and by granting them liberty?” Justice Nagarathna observed in the judgment.