Two separate Public Interest Litigations, filed in the Apex Court, were heard by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Tuesday morning. Both relate to a revoke of the remission granted to the 11 convicts guilty of gangrape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case.
The first PIL is by Trinamool Congress MP Mohua Moitra. She has moved the Supreme Court challenging the release of all 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder case. Filed through advocate Shadan Farsat, the PIL also notes that the victim has legitimate apprehensions regarding her safety and also of her family members.
The other PIL has been filed by social activists Subhashini Ali, Revati Laul and Roop Rekha Varma. Appearing for them, advocate Aparna Bhat brought up the matter before the CJI to request “an urgent listing for tomorrow.”
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal stated: “We are challenging the remission order, not the order of Supreme Court.” It is mention worthy that the Apex Court “gave a discretion to the government to consider it. The bench was of Justice Ajay Rastogi.”
There was a massive outrage after Bilkis Bano’s rapists were freed and around 6,000 citizens had urged the top court to revoke the remission of sentences for 11 men who were convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang rape case. The case dates back to 2002 and is wrought in the post-Godhra communal riots that flared up in Gujarat. Bano, then 21 and five-months pregnant, was gangraped by the 11. They also stand guilty of having murdered seven of her kin, including “smashing the head” of her three-year-old daughter. The CBI, in its probe, found all 11 guilty of gangrape and mass murder in the most brutal manner.
There has been a significant amount of anger over the rapists who were released from prison after serving 15 years and were met with sweets and garlands. On I-Day, when Prime Minister Modi spoke about nari shakti and preserving the honor and dignity of women, all the 11 walked out of the Godhra sub-jail under Gujarat government’s remission policy. Significantly, five of the 10 members on the Advisory Committee For Remission Review, are BJP members with two of them being MLAs in the Bhupendra Patel-led Gujarat government.
A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai sentenced the 11 to life in prison on January 21, 2008. Later, the Bombay High Court upheld the conviction.