Supreme Court Will Hear Three Petitions Against Release Of Bilkis Bano Case Convicts

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The Supreme Court will hear three petitions challenging the release of the 11 men who were convicted for rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case. The convicts had been released by the Gujarat government under a remission policy in a move that was heavily criticised.

Today, the Supreme Court will hear the petitions challenging the remission filed by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, Community Party of Indian (Marxist) leader Subhashini Ali, and another petitioner. The bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana heard submissions from senior advocates Abhishek Singhvi (appearing for Moitra) and Kapil Sibal (appearing for Ali), and Aparna Bhatt and agreed to list the petition.

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.

Supreme Court Bilkis Bano

During an early hearing, Sibal highlighted the gravity of the crime and mentioned that fourteen people were murdered and a pregnant woman was assaulted. The senior advocate 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.”

A three-judge bench will be led by Chief Justice Ramana and will also have Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath hear the petitions.

The Gujarat government released the convicts under the outdated remission policy of 1992 and not the current remission policy of 2014.

On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano was gang raped and several members of her family were murdered, including her three-year-old daughter. A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court found 13 convicts to be guilty and 11 of them were sentenced to life imprisonment. They were convicted of gang rape and the murder of Bano’s family members.

After serving more than 15 years in prison, one of the convicts approached the Supreme Court with a plea for early release. The Supreme Court directed the Gujarat government to look into the plea and a panel was set up to consider the plea. The panel made a unanimous decision to approve the remission of the convicts.

The 11 convicts were freed after the Gujarat government approved the early release plea under its remission policy. They were freed from the Godhra sub-jail on August 15.

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