The Supreme Court on Tuesday assured Bilkis Bano, who has challenged the premature release of 11 convicts who gang-raped her and murdered her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots, that her plea against the remission would be heard soon after the constitution of a new Bench.
A Bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala said that the new Bench would be formed at the earliest. Supreme Court judge Justice Bela M Trivedi had recused herself from hearing a batch of pleas challenging the remission of sentence.
Earlier, a Bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi had ordered that the matter be listed before the Bench which Justice Trivedi was not a part of. Ms. Bano had also filed a review petition for its earlier order by which it had asked the Gujarat government to consider the plea for the remission of one of the convicts. The review petition was dismissed.
Some PILs were filed seeking directions to revoke the remission granted to 11 convicts. The pleas were filed by the National Federation of Indian Women, whose general secretary is Annie Raja; Member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Subhashini Ali; journalist Revati Laul; social activist and professor Roop Rekha Verma; and TMC MP Mahua Moitra.
Convicts behaviour good
The Gujarat government in its affidavit, had defended the remission granted to the convicts saying they had completed 14 years of sentence in prison and their “behaviour was found to be good”. The State government said it had considered the cases of all 11 convicts as per the policy of 1992, and remission was granted on August 10, 2022. The Central government also approved the pre-mature release of the convicts, said the affidavit. It was pertinent to note that the remission was not granted under the circular governing the grant to prisoners as part of the celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it said.
In March 2002 during the post-Godhra riots, Ms. Bano was allegedly gang-raped and left to die with 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. She was five months pregnant when rioters attacked her family in Vadodara.