The Supreme Court yesterday held the hearing of the petitions challenging the grant of remission to 11 people convicted and sentenced to a life term in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case. The bench, comprising of Justice K M Joseph and Justice B V Nagratna, termed the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano a “horrendous” crime. The apex court issued notices to the Centre and the Gujarat government in the case.
The bench termed it as a “horrendous” crime. The court has directed the Centre and the Gujarat government to produce files regarding the grant of remission to convicts. The bench clarified that it would examine a gamut of issues, including the applicability of the remission policy, definition of “appropriate government” for the purposes of remission, and the considerations made by the authorities concerned. Court will hear at length the case on 18th April.
Earlier, Gujarat government in its affidavit had disclosed that the Union ministry of home affairs had approved the early release of the convicts on the ground of their completion of 14 years imprisonment while state took into account their “good behaviour” as a key reason to grant remission.
All accused were sentenced to life imprisonment, but on 15 August 2022, they were released from Godhra jail in Gujarat, under the amnesty policy of the Gujarat government. Some of the released accused have already spent 15 years and some spent 18 years in imprisonment. Earlier, Justice Bela M Trivedi withdrew her name from hearing the petition of Bilkis Bano.
Earlier, Bilkis Bano approached the Supreme Court against the Gujarat government’s decision to allow the 11 men, sentenced to life in 2008, to walk out of jail. She stated in her writ petition that the gravity of the crime would itself disentitle the convicts from getting benefit of an early release. BJP led Gujarat Government had granted amnesty to all convicts. Many petitions have been filed against the decision of Gujarat Government.