The Supreme Court will hear a plea challenging the grant of remission by the Gujarat government to 11 rape and murder convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case.
After a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices, Hima Kohli and C T Ravikumar took note of submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal and lawyer Aparna Bhat against the remission granted to the rape and murder convicts serving life imprisonment in the Gujarat 2002 riots case, a bench led by the CJI and comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath, will take up the petition filed by CPI(M) MP Subhashini Ali and two others challenging the release of the convicts.
The plea referred to the sequence of events of the case recorded in judicial files. It said, “It is submitted that on such facts, no right thinking authority applying any test under any extant policy would consider it fit to grant remission to persons who are found to have been involved in the commission of such gruesome acts.”
“It is further submitted that it would appear that the constitution of members of the competent authority of the Respondent No.1 also bore allegiance to a political party, and also was sitting MLAs. As such, it would appear that the competent authority was not an authority that was entirely independent, and one that could independently apply its mind to the facts at hand,” it said quoting media reports.
TMC MP Mahua Moitra has also filed a separate petition in the Supreme Court against the release of the convicts in the case alleging the remission “completely fails to bolster either social or human justice and does not constitute a valid exercise of the guided discretionary power of the State”.
The 11 rape and murder convicts, after completion of 15 years or more in jail were freed from of the Godhra sub-jail on independence Day after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy.
A special CBI court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008, sentenced the 11 to life imprisonment on charges of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family, a verdict later upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.
21-year-old Bilkis Bano was five months pregnant when she was gang-raped and her three-year-old daughter was brutally killed in front of her eyes along with several of her family members by a gang of people, mainly her neighbours in the village, in the violence that ensued after Godhra train burning incident in 2002.