Earlier this week, the Supreme Court announced it would consider early “listing by circulation” a petition seeking to review its earlier order asking the Gujarat government to consider the plea for the remission of 11 Bilkis Bano gang-rape convicts.
During a hearing, a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and Dipankar Datta took note of the submissions of lawyer Shobha Gupta that the review plea has not yet been listed.
It will be brought to the attention of the public by circulation. It will be posted as soon as possible. I will check the tentative date,” said the CJI to the lawyer who informed him that the tentative date was shown as December 5.
Review petitions against apex court judgments are decided in chambers by distribution among the judges who were involved in the underlying judgment.
Besides the review, Bano, who was gang raped and seven members of her family killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots, has also filed a separate petition challenging the state government’s remission of sentence for 11 convicts in the case, claiming their premature release has shaken society’s conscience.
This case is scheduled for hearing on December 13 before a bench consisting of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trived.
It has been requested that the Supreme Court review its May 13, 2022 order on a guilty plea by a convict made by a gang-rape survivor.
The top court had requested the state government to consider the request for premature release of the convicts in accordance with its policy of July 9, 1992 on decision of remission petitions within two months.
On August 15, 2017, all 11 convicts were released after being granted remission by the state government.
There is a claim that Bilkis Bano was not included in the petition by a convict who, along with others, was released under an out-of-date remission policy.
As a result of the cancellation of the policy dated July 9, 1992 by the State of Gujarat via a circular dated May 8, 2003, the review plea stated that it was necessary to examine whether the policy dated 09.07.1992 remains relevant for remission applications of convicts to be considered if in fact the state of Gujarat is the appropriate government under section 432 CrPC.
A PIL has already been filed against the release of the convicts by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, journalist Revati Laul, former vice chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma, and TMC MP Mahua Moitra.
When Bilkis Bano, 21, was five months pregnant and fleeing the riots that broke out after the burning of the Godhra train, she was gang-raped. She lost her three-year-old daughter along with seven other family members.
A Maharashtra court was assigned to hear the case after the Supreme Court transferred investigation and trial to the CBI.
On January 21, 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai had sentenced the 11 men to life imprisonment on charges of gang-raping Bilkis Bano and murdering seven members of her family.
Both the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court upheld their convictions.
It is important to note that the 11 men convicted in the case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 as a result of the Gujarat government’s remission policy. It had been more than 15 years since they were released from prison.