The Supreme Court on Monday, March 27, sought a response from the Union of India, Gujarat government and others on a plea filed by Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped with seven other members of her family were killed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Bano has challenged remission of sentence of 11 convicts in the case.
While now scheduling the matter for hearing on April 18, a bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna said there is a plethora of complex issues involved and it needs to hear the matter in detail. The apex court issued a notice to the Union of India, the Gujarat government and the convicts.
It also directed the Gujarat government to be ready with all relevant files granting remission to the parties on the next date of the hearing.
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During today’s proceedings, the bench also observed that it would not be overwhelmed by emotions in the case and would only go by the law.
On January 4, a bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi first took up the petition filed by Bano and other pleas fled by citizens. However, Justice Trivedi recused from hearing the case without citing any reason. Ms Trivedi was Secretary in the Law Department in the years immediately after the Gujarat carnage of 2002.
Bilkis Bano had moved the apex court on November 30, 2022 last year challenging the “premature” release of 11 lifers by the state government, saying it has “shaken the conscience of society”.
PTI reports also how, besides the plea challenging the release of the convicts, the gang-rape survivor had also filed a separate petition seeking a review of the apex court’s May 13, 2022, order on a plea by a convict. The review plea was later dismissed in December last year.
All 11 convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government and released on August 15 last year despite the then presiding judge, Judge UD Salvi and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) formally objecting to the proposed remission. After the local administration and state government of Gujarat even the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had acquiesced to the remission plea.