Bilkis Bano case: Plea challenging remission of 11 convicts mentioned in Supreme Court, CJI says will look into it
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will consider the plea for an urgent hearing on the petitions challenging the exemption granted to the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.
This was stated by advocate Aparna Bhat after mentioning one of these petitions before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana. The petition has been filed by three petitioners including CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali and independent journalist Revathi Laul. The second petition has also been filed by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra.
When the issue was raised in the court on Tuesday, the CJI asked whether the release was based on the Supreme Court order, to which Bhat said the apex court by an order had given discretion to the Gujarat government to take a decision.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the challenge was on the principles of exemption. To this, the CJI said, ‘Let’s see.
When Bhat asked whether the court would consider listing the matter on Wednesday, the CJI replied: “Let’s see.”
The Gujarat government released 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano murder and 2002 gang rape case as part of its remission and premature release policy on August 15, when one of the convicts, Radheshyam Shah, moved to the Supreme Court. Shah, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a CBI court in Mumbai in 2008, had completed 15 years and 4 months in jail.
Bilkis was gang-raped by a mob on March 3, 2002, in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district, and 14 people, including her three-year-old daughter Saleha, were killed. Bilquis was pregnant at the time.
Reacting to the release of the convicts, Bilkis said she was “devoid of words” and “still numb”.
“Today, all I can say is – how can justice for any woman end like this? I had faith in the highest courts of my country. I trusted the system and was slowly learning to live with my trauma. The release of these convicts has taken away my peace and shaken my faith in justice,” she had said in a statement.
The 11 released convicts include Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohaniya, Pradeep Mordhia, Bakabhai Vohaniya, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana.