Bilkis Bano: Supreme Court issues notice against granting remission to life convicts by Gujarat Government

The Supreme Court has roday asked the government of Gujarat to repond on a plea challenging the decision of the State to grant remission to the convicts of 2002 Godhra riots who gangraped Bilkis Bano and murdered her family members.

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana along with Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath have issued notice to the Gujarat Government while directing that the eleven convicts be impleaded as parties.

The Court said " Issue notice. File your reply. We direct the 11 convicts to be impleaded in the case."

The 11 convicts who are now free and celebrating 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.

While the hearing was in progress the Court said that what it has to consider is whether under the Gujarat Rules, the convicts are entitled to remission or was it with some intention.

The Court said it has to see whether there was application of mind in this case while granting remission?

The petition was filed by CPI(M) leader Subhasini Ali, independent journalist and filmmaker Revati Laul and former philosophy professor and activist Roop Rekh Varma in the SUpreme Court.

Gujarat Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Raj Kumar had reportedly said that the convicts were released due to the “completion of 14 years” in jail and other factors such as “age, nature of the crime, behaviour in prison and so on”.

During the 2002 Godhra riots,Bano was gangraped and her three-year-old-daughter was among twelve people killed by a mob in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district in Gujarat.

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe was ordered by the Supreme Court after Bano approached National Human Rights Commission.

In the year 2004, Bilkis Bano complained of death threats she was receiving from the accused, and the apex court in directed the trial to be transferred from Godhra in Gujarat to Maharashtra keeping in mind the safety of the accused.

A Special CBI Court  in year 2008,convicted thirteen accused, out of which eleven were sentenced life imprisonment on the charge of gangrape and murder.

In May 2017, the conviction order was upheld by the Bombay High Court.

Supreme Court had in 2019, directed the State of Gujarat to provide ₹50 lakh compensation to Bilkis Bano.

The present plea is about the Gujarat government, under the remission plea of the convicts making them free.