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Remission was not granted as part of the 75th Independence celebrations in Bilkis Bano case: Gujarat Government

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The Supreme Court has been informed by the Gujarat government that it decided to release all the eleven convicts in Bilkis Bano gang rape case as per a 1992 remission policy as they had completed more than 14 years in prison and their behaviour was found to be good. 

In the affidavit filed before the Apex court on Monday, the Gujarat government said that before releasing 11 prisoners under remission policy of 1992,all opinions were considered well.

The government also clarified that the convicts were not released as part of the 75th Independence celebrations – Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

The affidavit said that the State of Gujarat has considered the cases of all 11 prisoners as per the policy of 1992 and remission was granted on August 10, 2022. It is important to note that the remission was not granted under the circular governing grant of remission to prisoners as part of celebration of Azadi ka Amrit mahotsav.

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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