25 Aug 2022 6:26 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on the petition challenging the order of Gujarat Government allowing premature release of 11 convicts sentenced to life in the Bilkis Bano case for gangrape & murder.A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath however posed a query with respect to the legal bar on grant of remission to...
The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on the petition challenging the order of Gujarat Government allowing premature release of 11 convicts sentenced to life in the Bilkis Bano case for gangrape & murder.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath however posed a query with respect to the legal bar on grant of remission to the convicts.
"Merely because the act was horrific, is that sufficient to say remission is wrong?" Justice Rastogi asked Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioners.
Significantly, Justice Rastogi and Justice Vikram Nath were part of the bench which ruled in May 2022 that Gujarat has the jurisdiction to decide the remission in the case, asked .
Justice Rastogi further asked Sibal,
"Day in and day out remission is granted to convicts of life sentence, what is the exception (in this case)."
The bench was hearing a petition filed by CPI (M) MP Subhasini Ali, journalist Revati Laul & Prof Roop Rekha Verma.
At the outset, CJI Ramana clarified that the May 2022 order merely held that the remission or premature release in terms of the policy which is applicable in the State where the crime was committed has to be "considered".
"I read somewhere Court has granted permission for remission. No, Court said only to consider."
The bench then issued notice in the matter and directed the Petitioners to array the accused persons, the affected party, as Respondents.
During the hearing, Sibal narrated the grim facts of the case, relating to exodus of Muslim population, rampant incidents of rape and murders, etc.
However, the bench asked Sibal to confine to the issue of remission.
"Whatever they have committed, they have been convicted. The question is whether they are justified in considering remission. We are only concerned if remission was in the parameters of law," Justice Rastogi said.
The counsel appearing for State of Gujarat on the other hand opposed the petition on ground of maintainability. "Writ is not maintainable. They are strangers."
The court has asked the State to file its reply and listed the matter after two weeks.
The crime took place amidst the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. Bilkis Bano, who was around 5 months pregnant then, was gangraped, and 14 of her family members, including her three year old daughter, were murdered. The investigation was handed over to the CBI as per the directions of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also shifted the trial to Maharashtra. In 2008, a sessions court in Mumbai passed the sentence in the case.
On August 15, the 11 convicts were released from the jail pursuant to a decision taken by the Gujarat Government to grant them remission after completion of 14 years of sentence.
Click Here To Read/Download Order