Bilkis Bano Case : CJI DY Chandrachud Agrees To Constitute Special Bench To Hear Plea Against Premature Release Of Convicts
CJI DY Chandrachud has agreed to constitute a special bench to hear the pleas challenging the order of Gujarat Government allowing premature release of 11 convicts sentenced to life in the Bilkis Bano case for gang rape and murder during 2002 Gujarat Riots.
The matter was mentioned by Advocate Shobha Gupta, appearing for Bilkis Bano, before a bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala today.
Advocate Gupta highlighted that Justice Ajay Rastogi was continuously sitting in a combination of himself and Justice Bela Trivedi, who had earlier recused herself from hearing the matter. Thus, she requested the Chief Justice to constitute a special bench for the hearing. The Chief Justice agreed to constituting a special bench and stated that he would list the matter at the earliest.
On 4th January, 2023, Justice Bela M. Trivedi had recused herself from hearing the Public Interest Litigations concerning the issue. The recusal was seemingly on the basis that Justice Trivedi was deputed as the Law Secretary of the Gujarat Government during 2004-2006. Sitting in the same combination, with Justice Ajay Rastogi, in December, 2022, Justice Bela M. Trivedi had also recused from hearing the writ petition filed by Bilkis Bano questioning the decision to release the convicts. Justice Ajay Rastogi had reckoned that Bano’s petition could be tagged and made the lead matter in the batch of petitions. However, he was concerned that since Justice Trivedi was recusing, his Bench would not be able to tag the matter. Justice Rastogi had thus asked Ms. Gupta to mention Bano’s matter when he is sitting in a different combination, so that it can be tagged.
The petitions are listed before a bench led by Justice Rastogi as he had authored the May 2022 judgment which directed Gujarat Government to decide the remission applications.