Friday, December 8, 2023

Bilkis Bano: Released Convict questions how can a third party file a petition opposing remission

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A recently released convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case, has opposed the plea before the Supreme Court challenging remission of his life sentence after he was released.

The Convict named Radheysham Bhagwandas Shah told the Court that the remission was in accordance with the Supreme Court dated May 13, 2022.

The counter affidavit filed by the released convict said that the Court while considering the fact that the conviction in this present case by the Trial Court had occurred in the year 2008 and by that time the State of Gujarat’s premature policy dated July 9, 1992 was in operation, the State Government was directed to consider the application for premature release in terms of the policy dated July 9, 1992.

The convict who has been released has also questioned the locus of the petitioners, asking when a matter was settled by a rule of law , how can a third party file a petition opposing such remission.

The Gujarat government had last month granted remission to 11 convicts who had gangraped Bilkis Ban while she was pregnant and also killed her young daughter along with other family members during the 2002 Godhra riots.

The 11 convicts who have been 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.

The CPI(M) leader Subhasini Ali, who is an independent journalist ,filmmaker Revati Laul and former philosophy professor and activist Roop Rekh Varma had filed a petition before the top court questioning the remission.

The Supreme Court had  asked all the 11 convicts to respond to the plea along with asking for a response from the Gujarat Government on the same.

Shah responded by saying that none of the petitioners in this case are related to the case and only happens to be either political activist or a third party stranger to the said case.

Shah cited examples of celebrated judgment like “Janata Dal v. HS Chowdhary, which was reiterated and followed in “Simranjit Singh Mann v. UOI and which continued till date in “Subramanian Swamy v. Raju, that consistently held in clear terms that a third party who is a total stranger to the prosecution has no ‘locus standi’ in criminal matters and has no right whatsoever in filing a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution

He added that if such gets promotion or are entertained by the apex court, it would not only unsettle the settled position of law but would also open flood gates for people to jump in any matter even after the court has given verdict.

It was contended that even on the merits of the case the court in its Judgment dated May 13, 22 passed in W.P. (Crl.) No.135/2022 after hearing all the parties in case came out with a categorical Judgment and directions on broadly two issues. 

1.The first issue which was answered by the Court as to what which State Government Policy would be applicable in the instant case.

2.The second issue which was answered was that it is always a policy for premature release which is applicable at the time of the conviction by the Trial Court on a convict and not a subsequent policy at the time of consideration.

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