India’s SC dismisses Bilkis Bano review plea challenging Gujarat’s jurisdiction on remission of convicts
The Supreme Court on Saturday dismissed a petition filed by Bilkis Bano seeking to review the May 2022 judgement which held that Gujarat had the appropriate jurisdiction to decide on the premature release of 11 men convicted of gangraping her and murdering her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots, Bar and Bench reported.
The order was passed by a bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath.
Eleven men had gangraped Bano in a village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat. She was 19 and pregnant at the time. Fourteen members of her family were also killed in the violence, including her three-year-old daughter whose head was smashed on the ground by the perpetrators.
The men were freed on August 15 from a Godhra jail after the Gujarat government approved their application under its remission policy. On the same day, the convicts were greeted with sweets by their relatives after their release. A member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had felicitated them as well, causing outrage.
In November, Bano filed a review petition against the Supreme Court’s judgement in May allowing the Gujarat government to decide on the remission of the life-term sentences of the convicts.
Bano in her plea had said the Supreme Court’s view that Gujarat had the “appropriate government” to decide on releasing the convicts is contrary to provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Bano was citing Section 432(7)(b) of the code that deals with the power to suspend or remit sentences. It says that the government of the state within which the offender is sentenced has to consider remission as well. The convicts were sentenced by a court in Maharashtra.
Bano argued that given the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Maharashtra government should have heard the remission application.
On Saturday, the court gave its verdict on a petition filed by one of the convicts, Radheshyam Bhagwandas Shah. He had asked the Gujarat government to consider his application for premature release under the July 9, 1992 policy, which existed at the time of his conviction.
In the order, the Supreme Court said that there appears no error in the May 2022 judgement, which may call for its review. It also added that precedents cited in the review petition was of no assistance to the court, reported Live Law.
“In our opinion, no case for review is made out,” the court said in its order. “The review petition is accordingly dismissed.”
Bano’s lawyer, Advocate Shobha Gupta, clarified in a video message that the release of 11 convicts in the case was not the subject matter of the review petition.
“The same is the subject matter of the writ petition, which is still pending in the Supreme Court,” Gupta said.
In November, Bano had said that Shah, in his remission plea, did not disclose the nature of his crime to mislead the court to get a favourable order. The Supreme Court had ordered the Gujarat government to consider releasing the convicts on Shah’s plea.
Shah “cleverly concealed” the name of prosecutrix Bilkis Bano, which is to date considered a synonym of the brutality of Gujarat Riots, Bano’s counsel had argued.
This article was originally published on Scroll.in and has been reproduced here with permission.