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Bilkis Bano plea: Justice Bela Trivedi recuses herself from hearing petition challenging remission of 11 rape convicts

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Supreme Court Judge, Justice Bela M Trivedi recused from hearing the petition filed by Gujarat riots gangrape survivor Bilkis Bano that challenges the decision of the Gujarat government to grant remission to the 11 convicts who gangraped her and murdered her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots.

The matter was placed before the Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Trivedi. The latter chose to recuse herself from the case.

Bilkis Bano was gangraped during the the 2002 riots, as if this was less, her 3 year old daughter was killed among twelve people killed by a mob in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district in Gujarat.

Justice Ajay Rastogi asked the Advocate Shobha Gupta who was representing the petitioners side to list the matter before a bench which one of the member has recused from hearing.

Advocate Shobha Gupta had asked for an urgent listing of the matter before the Court closes for winter vacations.

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 which was 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 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 Government judgment of the top court, the Gujarat government had granted  remission to 11 convicts who had raped Bano and murdered her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots.

The convicts, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, 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 the Bano against the top court’s May 13 judgment, contending that the remission policy of 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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