Sunday, December 10, 2023

Bilkis Bano Case: SC asks Gujarat govt to give reasons for releasing convicts


New Delhi: The Centre and the Gujarat government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that they may file a plea seeking a review of its March 27 order asking them to be ready with original files on the grant of remission to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.

A bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna questioned the paroles granted to 11 convicts during their incarceration period and said the gravity of the offence could have been considered by the state.

It said, “A pregnant woman was gang-raped and several people were killed. You cannot compare the victim’s case with standard section 302 (murder) cases. Like you cannot compare apples with oranges, similarly massacre cannot be compared with a single murder. Crimes are generally committed against society and the community. Unequal cannot be treated equally.”

“The question is whether government applied its mind and what material formed the basis of its decision to grant remission,” the bench said, adding, “Today it is Bilkis but tomorrow it can be anyone. It maybe you or me. If you do not show your reasons for grant of remission, then we will draw our own conclusions.”

The bench posted the batch of pleas challenging the remission to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case for final disposal on May 2 and asked all the convicts who have not been served notices to file their replies.

It asked the Centre and the state to make its stand clear about the filing of a review plea.

On March 27, terming Bilkis Bano’s gang rape and the murder of her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots as a “horrendous” act, the Supreme Court had asked the Gujarat government whether uniform standards, as followed in other cases of murder, were applied while granting remission to the 11 convicts in the case.

It had sought a response from the Centre, Gujarat government and others on a plea filed by Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped and seven members of her family were killed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

Bano has challenged the remission of the sentence of 11 convicts in the case.

All 11 convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government and released on August 15 last year.

The top court seized of PILs filed by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, Revati Laul, an independent journalist, Roop Rekha Verma, who is a former vice chancellor of the Lucknow University, and TMC MP Mahua Moitra against the release of the convicts.

Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed.



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