The Supreme Court heard the petitions challenging the remission granted by the Gujarat government to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case. The bench sought a response from the Gujarat government regarding the plea and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.
The special three-judge bench was headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and comprised of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath. Justice Rastogi asked, “Merely because the act was horrific, is that sufficient to say remission is wrong?”
Supreme Court On Bilkis Bano Case
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioners highlighted the facts about the case and the gravity of the crime. The bench asked Sabil to focus on remission and not the crime. “Whatever they have committed, they have been convicted. The question is whether they are justified in considering remission. We are only concerned if remission was in the parameters of law,” said the court.
The Supreme Court was hearing the petitions that challenged the remission of the 11 convicts. Three Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, Communist Party of India (Marxist) member Subhashini Ali and another petitioner were heard.
The court asked the Gujarat government to file its reply and listed the case after two weeks. The bench also asked the petitioners to implead the convicts granted remission as parties in the case.
In 2002, Bilkis Bano was gangraped and members of her family were murdered. She was pregnant at the time and her three-year-old daughter was among the family members who were murdered. The 11 men were convicted of gangrape and murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment.
One of the convicts approached the Supreme Court after 15 years in prison with a plea for early remission. The Gujarat government was directed to look into the plea and a panel made a unanimous decision to approve the remission of the convicts.
The convicts were released under Gujarat’s outdated remission policy of 1992 and not the current remission policy of 2014. The Bilkis Bano rape case convicts were released early from the Godhra sub-jail on August 15.