Supreme Court Assures Early Listing For Bilkis Bano's Review Petition Against Judgment Allowing Gujarat Govt To Decide Remission
The Supreme Court, on Monday, indicated that it would have Bilkis Bano's petition seeking review of the judgment of the Apex Court allowing the Gujarat Government to make a decision on the remission of the convicts placed early for hearing.
Appearing before a Bench comprising the CJI, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S.Narasimha and Justice Dipankar Dutta, Advocate, Ms. Shobha Gupta representing Bilkis Bano apprised the Bench that though Bano's writ petition challenging the premature release of the 11 convicts sentenced to life for gang rape and murder during 2002 Gujarat Riot have been listed, the Registry had not yet listed her review petition.
CJI, Chandrachud assured the Counsel that the matter would be placed early for hearing.
"Ms.Shobha, it will come up by circulation.I'll have it placed early."
Ms. Gupta informed the Bench that the review petition was initially, tentatively, showing for 5th December, 2022. Thereafter, it was showing for 12th December, 2022 (today).
"It was tentatively showing for 5th December. It was removed from the 5th. But, it is still showing date…"
Considering the fact that a tentative date was showing in the review petition, the CJI stated -
"There is a date, I'll have it checked."
In May 2022, a bench led by Justice Rastogi had ruled that the Gujarat Government had the jurisdiction to consider the remission request as the offence took place in Gujarat. The Gujarat High Court had earlier held the remission had to be considered by the State of Maharashtra, as the trial was held in Mumbai, upon transfer from Gujarat. Bano has moved the Apex Court seeking review of the said judgment.
The crime took place amidst the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. A five-month pregnant Bilkis Bano, who was around 19 years old then, was fleeing their village in Dahod district along with his family members. When they reached the outskirts of the Chhapparwad village Bilkis, her mother and three other women were raped and 14 of her family members, including her three-year-old daughter, were murdered. Owing to the political influence of the accused persons and given the sensitivity of the issue, 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 sentenced the accused to life imprisonment.
After serving 15 years in jail, one of the accused approached the Supreme Court with a plea of his premature release, which was earlier rejected by the Gujarat High Court on the ground that the appropriate government would be that of Maharashtra and not Gujarat.
On 13.05.2022, the Supreme Court decided that the appropriate government to grant remission would be the Gujarat Government and directed it to consider the plea within a period of two months in terms of its 1992 remission policy.