New Delhi: On Wednesday, November 30, 2022, Bilkis Bano went before the Supreme Court to protest the early release of 11 prisoners who had gang-raped her during the Godhara Riots and killed her family members at the same time in 2002.
Bilkis Bano has contested the early liberation of the 11 convicts, who were given life sentences for gang rape and murder during the 2002 Gujarat Riots, before the Supreme court in a writ appeal. Bano has also asked for a reconsideration of the Supreme Court’s order permitting the Gujarat Government to decide whether to commute the convicts’ sentences.
The pleas before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud were stated by attorney Shobha Gupta speaking on behalf of Bano. She expressed skepticism that the case would be heard by the panel headed by Justice Ajay Rastogi.
He was the one who wrote the previous ruling enabling Gujarat to decide the remission petition. However, he is currently participating in a Constitution Bench hearing. CJI Chandrachud has stated that he will come to a judgment after looking at the case closely.
A bench chaired by Justice Rastogi declared in May 2022 that because the offense occurred in Gujarat, the Gujarat Government had the authority to evaluate the remission plea. The Gujarat High Court had previously ruled that because the trial had been transferred from Gujarat to Mumbai, the State of Maharashtra needed to take the remission into account.
Eventually, all eleven prisoners were freed on August 15, 2022. Images of the recently released prisoners receiving heroic welcomes went viral on social media, sparking outrage among many groups.
In light of this, numerous PILs challenging the relief given to the convicts were submitted to the Supreme Court. Some petitioners included the National Federation of Indian Women and writer Revati Laul. Not just them, TMC MP Mahua Moitra, former IPS officer Meeran Chadha Borwankar, and CPI(M) politician Subhashini Ali also filed petitions.
In the past, the Gujarat government has justified the remission of fines given to offenders by stating that they served out their complete 14-year prison sentences and had otherwise been behaving well.
The State government has considered the instances of all 11 convicts following 1992’s policy. And after that, they granted the remission on August 10, 2022. The Central government has also approved the premature release of convicts.
It is important to remember that the remission was not given following the circular regulating the grant of remission to inmates in honor of “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav,” as it has been stated.
As per the Bilkis Bano case’s latest update, they were released because the Gujarat Government claimed they had already completed 14 years of imprisonment. It further claimed that it had established a policy for the early release of prisoners who had served 14 years of their life sentences in a circular dated July 9, 1992.
According to the statement, the CBI investigated in the current instance. And the State government received the necessary approvals or directives from the Indian government.
According to the affidavit, the GOI consented to the early release of 11 inmates on July 11, 2022, following section 435 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
According to the government, the petitioners, as a third party, have no right to contest the remission order. It further claims that the argument is not maintainable under the law nor worthy of consideration on the facts.
The Gujarat government and the convicts had already been served with a notice by the Supreme court asking for their comments regarding the arguments against the remission order.
It also requested that the State submit the complete history of the Bilkis Bano case’s procedures, including the remission ruling.
The Plea was filed against the decision and early release of the 11 convicts on August 15, 2022. The decision by the Gujarat government’s relevant authority was challenged, according to the Plea.
In the pleas, the ruling mandating their remission was requested to be set aside. It further asked for the prompt re-arrest of the 11 convicts.
The argument said that the remission in this horrible case would be entirely against the public interest and upset the collective public consciousness.
Moreover, it’s entirely against the plaintiff’s interests, whose family has made public declarations expressing concern for her security per the latest update of the Bilkis Bano case.