BREAKING| Supreme Court Dismisses Bilkis Bano's Review Petition Against Judgment Allowing Gujarat Govt To Decide Convicts' Remission
The Supreme Court has dismissed the review petition filed by Bilkis Bano seeking review of the May 2022 judgment which held that Gujarat Government had the jurisdiction to decide the remission applications of 11 convicts, who were sentenced to life for gangrape and murder during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
In May 2022, a bench comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath had ruled that the Gujarat Government had the jurisdiction to consider the remission request as the offence took place in Gujarat. The bench further directed the Gujarat Government to decide the application as per the remission policy of 1992 within a period of two months. 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.
In the order dismissing the review petition, the bench observed that "there appears no error apparent on the face of the record, which may call for review of the judgment dated 13th May 2022". The bench further opined that the precedents cited in the review petition are of no assistance to the petitioner.
"In our opinion, no case for review is made out. The review petition is accordingly dismissed", the bench ordered.
Bilkis, through her lawyer Advocate Shobha Gupta, had sought review of the judgment by primarily contending that it was contrary to clear language of Section Section 432(7)(b) of CrPC which states that the appropriate government to decide remission is the government of the State where the trial was held.
She also pointed that the Supreme Court passed the judgment in a writ petition filed by one of the convicts. Allowing the writ petition, the Supreme Court set aside the judgment of the Gujarat High Court (which held that remission has to be decided by the Maharashtra Government), although no special leave petition was filed challenging the High Court judgment. This, Bilkis contended, amounted to a grave procedural irregularity, as a judgment cannot be set aside under Article 32 of the Constitution.
She also stated that the convict had "cleverly suppressed" the fact that the case related to Gujarat riots. Neither was Bilkis made a party nor was her name mentioned in the petition. Thus, the gravity and seriousness of the crime were suppressed from the Court and the Court was misled into passing the order, she contended in the review petition.
She has also filed another writ petition challenging the decision of the Gujarat Government to allow the premature release of the eleven convicts. Last week, the petition got adjourned as Justice Bela Trivedi, a member of the bench, recused herself from hearing, presumably because she had served the Gujarat Government as a Law Secretary on deputation during 2004-2006.
Click here to read/download the order