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Supreme Court To Hear Plea Against Release Of Bilkis Bano Rape Case Convicts

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider listing a plea challenging the remission of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case. Earlier, the court had asked the Gujarat government to consider the remission plea.

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Ritika Joshi
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The Supreme Court has agreed to consider listing a plea challenging the remission of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case. Earlier, the court had asked the Gujarat government to consider the plea for remission. The Gujarat government allowed for the release of the convicts on August 15.
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The Supreme Court will hear the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, Communist Party of India (Marxist) member Subhashini Ali, and one other petitioner. Moitra urged the Supreme Court to frame guidelines for grant remission.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana took note of the submission of senior advocates Kabil Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi, and lawyer Aparna Bhatt against the grant of remission and release of the Bilkis Bano case convicts.

Sibal said, “We are only challenging the remission and not the Supreme Court order… We are challenging the principles on the basis of which remission was granted”.

Bilkis Bano approached the Supreme Court on November 30, challenging the premature release of the 11 men convicted of gangraping her and murdering her family in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Bano filed a review plea against the May order of the Supreme Court which allowed the Gujarat government to apply the 1992 Remission Rules to release the convicts.

Bilkis Bano Rape Case

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On March 3, 2002, after the post-Godhra riots, Bilkis Bano who was pregnant at the time was gang raped and several members of her family were murdered. Her three-year-old was among the deceased.

In January 2008, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court found the 13 convicts to be guilty. 11 of those convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment. They were charged with gang rape and the murder of seven members of Bano’s family.

One of the convicts approached the Supreme Court with a plea for his premature release after serving more than 15 years in prison. The Supreme Court directed the Gujarat government to look into the premature release plea. A panel was set up to consider their release under Gujarat’s remission policy and the panel made a unanimous decision in favour of remission of the convicts.

All of the 11 convicts were freed after the Gujarat government allowed their release from the Godhra sub-jail under its remission policy on August 15.

The release of the convicts drew flak and videos of the convicts being garlanded and offered sweets caused outrage. Over 6,000 citizens issued a statement urging the Supreme Court to revoke the release of the convicts. The statement said the early release of the convicts was “immoral and unconscionable”.


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Suggested Reading: Bilkis Bano Case: All 11 Life Imprisonment Convicts Released Under Gujarat's Remission Policy

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