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Bilkis Bano gangrape case: Supreme Court to take up plea against remission of convicts after Winter vacations

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it will take up after the Winter vacations, the writ petition filed by gangrape survivor Bilkis Bano, challenging the decision of the Gujarat government to grant remission to 11 people, who were convicted for gangraping her and murdering her family members, during the 2002 Godhra riots in Gujarat.

Advocate Shobha Gupta, appearing for Bilkis, mentioned the matter before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud.

The CJI assured to take up the matter after Winter vacations, but told the Counsel appearing for the petitioner not to mention the same thing again and again, saying that it became ‘very irritating’. 

“Don’t keep mentioning this matter again and again. The Writ will be listed. A review was also circulated yesterday,” he added.

Earlier on December 13, Justice Bela M. Trivedi decided to recuse herself from hearing the petition filed by Bilkis Bano. The matter was placed before the Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Bela Trivedi, when the latter chose to recuse herself from the case.

Justice Ajay Rastogi told Advocate Gupta to list the matter before another Bench, but she insisted on urgent listing of the matter before the Court closed for winter vacations and hence, the matter was listed today before the Bench led by CJI Chandrachud.

Bilkis Bano was gangraped during the 2002 riots. Her three-year-old daughter was among 12 people killed by a mob in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district in Gujarat.

In May 2022, a bench led by Justice Rastogi had ruled that the government of Gujarat had the jurisdiction to consider the remission request as the offence took place in Gujarat.

Justice Rastogi had allowed a writ petition filed by one of the convicts, which overturned the Gujarat High Court’s view that the remission had to be considered by the State of Maharashtra, as the trial was held in Mumbai, upon transfer from Gujarat.

On May 13, the Apex Court had said that the remission of the convicts in the case should be considered as per the policy that was existing at the time of conviction in the State where the crime was actually committed.

One of the convicts had filed a petition seeking direction to the State of Gujarat for considering his application for premature release under the policy dated July 9, 1992, which was existing at the time of his conviction.

The petitioner was serving rigorous imprisonment for life after being found guilty of offences under Sections 302, 376(2)(e)(g) read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Supreme Court finally decided that if the crime happened in Gujarat, all further proceedings including plea for remission has to be considered as per the policy of Gujarat government.

In accord with the Supreme Court order of May 13, the Gujarat government had granted remission to 11 convicts, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

They were released by the Gujarat government ahead of the Assembly polls in the State. The name of the 11 convicts who were set free are Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana.

This led to the present plea by Bano before the top court.

A separate review petition has been filed by Bano against the Apex Court’s May 13 verdict, contending that the remission policy of the State of Maharashtra should apply in present case, instead of 1992 remission policy of Gujarat, since the trial had happened in Maharashtra. 

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