Bilkis Bano Case: New SC Bench To Hear Plea Against Remission To 11 Convicts Today

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will today hear a batch of pleas challenging the remission of sentence to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case which also involves killing of seven members of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

 As per a report by news agency PTI, the pleas filed by several political and civil rights activists, and a writ petition filed by Bano will be heard by a bench of justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna. 

The matter was listed for urgent hearing by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on March 22, who had agreed to constitute the new bench to hear the batch of pleas. 

On January 4, a bench comprising justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi took up the petition filed by Bano and the other pleas. However, Justice Trivedi recused from hearing the case without citing any reason.

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On November 30 last year, Bano had moved the apex court challenging the “premature” release of the 11 convicts by the Gujarat government saying it had “shaken the conscience of society”.

Besides the plea challenging the release of the convicts, the gang-rape survivor had also filed a separate petition seeking a review of the apex court’s May 13, 2022, order on a plea by a convict. The review plea was later dismissed in December last year.

The Gujarat government had granted remission to all the 11 convicts in the case who were released on August 15 last year. 

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In her pending writ petition, Bano has said the state government passed a “mechanical order” completely ignoring the requirement of law as laid down by the Supreme Court.

“The en-masse premature release of the convicts in the much talked about case of Bilkis Bano has shaken the conscience of the society and resulted in a number of agitations across the country,” she has said.

The plea, which included minute details of the crime, said Bano and her grown-up daughters were “shell-shocked with this sudden development”.

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Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed.

The 11 convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court in Mumbai on Janury 21, 2008. 

Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.