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SC Issues Notice To Gujarat Govt Over Release Of Bilkis Bano Case Convicts

Supreme Court issued notice to the Gujarat government over the remission granted to the 11 men convicted for the rape and murder of multiple people in the 2002 Bilkis Bano case. This comes after a plea was filed against the release of the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.  Advocate Aparna Bhat and senior advocate Kapil Sibal before a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana. Counsel submitted that they are challenging the remission order, emphasizing that a pregnant woman was raped and people were killed.

The PIL was filed by Subhashini Ali, Revathy Laul, and Roop Rekha Rani, assailing the order of the competent authority of the Gujarat government by way of which 11 persons who were accused in a set of heinous offenses were allowed to walk free on August 15, pursuant to remission being extended to them.

The petitioners contended that a grant of remission solely by the competent authority of a state government, without any consultation with the Centre, is impermissible in terms of the mandate of Section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Eleven convicts, sentenced to life imprisonment, were released from Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. The convicts had completed more than 15 years in jail.

TMC MP Mahua Moitra has moved the Supreme Court challenging the release of all 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano Case on remission by the Gujarat government.

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the Gujarat government’s response on a plea challenging the release of 11 men convicted for the gang rape of Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana also asked the petitioners to implead those who have been granted remission as parties in the matter. The bench also posted the matter for hearing after two weeks. The bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Ajay Rastogi, and Justice Vikram Nath however posed a query with respect to the legal bar.

Mahua Moitra proceeds Supreme Court

Three Public Interest Litigations – by Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo Member Subhashini Ali, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, and one other petitioner – have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the remission and consequent release of 11 convicts on Independence Day.

The incident turned into a huge political controversy with the special court judge who convicted the men also raising questions about the Gujarat government’s decision.”Did they ask the judge under whom the case was heard? I can tell you that I heard nothing regarding this… In such cases, the state government needs to take advice from the central government as well. Did they do that? I have no idea. If they did, what did the central government say,” Justice UD Salvi, who retired as a judge of the Bombay High Court.

“I don’t know if they went through the procedure or not,” he had added. The convicts walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. They had completed more than 15 years in jail.

The convicts were welcomed by groups linked to the ruling BJP – with sweets, hugs, and garlands. A BJP MLA was quoted as saying that the men were Brahmins with “good sanskar” (culture). Days after the convicts’ release, Bilkis Bano said it has “shaken” her faith in the justice system and left her “shocked” and “numb”. The family has been too distraught to decide on any legal step. Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the violence that broke out after the Godhra train burning. Among those killed was her three-year-old daughter.

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Mahua Moitra Moves SC Challenging Bilkis Bano Case convicts release

The remission granted by the Gujarat Government to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case has been challenged before the Supreme Court.

Advocate Aparna Bhat mentioned the matter before the Chief Justice of India today morning seeking an urgent listing tomorrow. CJI NV Ramana agreed to look into the matter. CJI Ramana asked if they were granted remission by virtue of a Supreme Court order.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal replied that the Supreme Court merely directed to consider the matter. “The Supreme Court gave discretion to the government to consider it. The bench was of Justice Ajay Rastogi. We are challenging the remission, not the order of SC”, Sibal submitted.

The petition challenging the pre-mature release of the convicts has been filed by Subhashini Ali, a member of the Communist Party of India(Marxist), journalist Revati Laul and Professor Roop Rekha Verma.

Mahua Moitra Moves to Supreme Court

Mahua Moitra has moved the Supreme Court challenging the release of all 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano Case on remission by the Gujarat government.

Story Behind Bilkis Bano’s rape case

The crime, which happened during the 2002 Gujarat riots, relates to the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of 14 of her family members, including her three-year-old daughter in a communal attack. Bilkis was the only survivor of the crime. The investigation was handed over to the CBI and the trial was shifted from Gujarat to Maharashtra by the Supreme Court. In 2008, a sessions court in Mumbai convicted 11 persons for gang rape and murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The conviction was upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.

On August 15, 2022, all the convicts were released from jail in Godhra, after being granted remission by the Gujarat Government. In May 2022, the Supreme Court held that Gujarat Government was the appropriate government to consider the remission in the case and directed that the remission applications be decided within 2 months. The premature release of these convicts sparked widespread outrage.

Criminal law expert Senior Advocate Rebecca M John opined that the Supreme Court erred in holding that Gujarat has the jurisdiction to grant remission because as per Section 432(7) CrPC, it is the state where the trial was held that has the power to decide remission. So, the Maharashtra Government is the “appropriate government” to consider the issue of remission.

The public interest litigation states that the victim has legitimate apprehensions regarding the safety of her and her family members.

The release completely fails to bolster either social or human justice and does not constitute a valid exercise of the guided discretionary power of the State under Sections 432-435 Cr.P.C.,” it states.

The PIL also mentions that the case was investigated by the CBI and thus, the Gujarat government has no power to grant remission/premature release under Section 432 CrPC without the express concurrence of the Central Government. It adds that releasing all 11 convicts on premature release on the same day clearly indicates that the State Government has mechanically granted “wholesale” release without considering each individual case on merits.

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