SC: Hearing of Bilkis Bano's plea against convicts' release adjourned
Bilkis Bano's petition contesting the early release of 11 men—convicted for her gang rape and murder of her seven family members—was adjourned after one of the Supreme Court judges on the bench recused from hearing the case. An apex court bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi was to hear the case on Tuesday. However, Justice Trivedi refused to hear the case.
Why does this story matter?
- Bano was five months pregnant when the Gujarat riots erupted in 2002 after a Sabarmati Express coach was set on fire.
- On March 3, 2002, 21-year-old Bano and her family were attacked in Ahmedabad's Randhikpur village by an angry mob that raped her and killed her family members.
- More than 1,000 people reportedly lost their lives in the Gujarat riots.
Bano's plea against early release of convicts
Bano, who was gang-raped and had seven members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter, killed during the Gujarat riots, petitioned the SC on November 30 challenging the Gujarat government's decision to release the 11 convicts in August. Additionally, Bano had also filed a review petition to challenge the SC's ruling in May that allowed the Gujarat government to decide on the convicts' remission.
Was shocked by the government's decision: Bano
Bano, in her petition, revealed that she had approached the Gujarat government asking for the papers or entire documents related to the premature release of the 11 convicts. However, nothing came from the state government despite her reminders. Bano also claimed that despite being the victim of the crime, she was not informed such a process of premature release or remission was being initiated.
Gujarat government's 1991 remission policy invoked
The 11 life-term convicts, who served over 15 years behind bars, were released from Godhra's sub-jail under Gujarat's 1991 remission policy on August 15. A committee decided on their release formed a few months back, and the Gujarat government backed the committee's recommendation, per officials.
Ripple effect of a convict's release
The aforementioned 11 convicts were granted premature release, reportedly based on a plea by a convict named Radheshyam Shah. He had approached SC with a special application for his premature release, which allowed all the other convicts to be freed. However, their release contradicts the Centre's notice from June 2022, which states that rape convicts can't be given special remission.
About the charges on the convicts
In 2008, Mumbai's special CBI court sentenced the accused in the case to life for murder, raping a pregnant woman, and illegal assembly. Later, the Bombay High Court upheld this conviction. Seven were acquitted over lack of proof, while one died during the trial. In 2019, the SC instructed Gujarat's government to provide Rs. 50L compensation, a house, and a government job to Bano.