28 Mar 2023

Bilkis Bano Case: What Supreme Court Said While Issuing Notice To Gujarat & Centre

New Delhi: Supreme Court has issued notices to the Central and Gujarat government on hearing the plea filed by Bilkis Bano and others challenging the order of the Gujarat Government allowing premature release of 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment. The Apex Court termed the crime committed by the convicts as “horrendous”.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice K M Joseph, and also comprising Justice B V Nagarathna, while posting the pleas for April 18, observed that the crime committed by the convicts was “horrendous” and said that it would not be “overwhelmed by emotions.”

"We are only on legal and law and nothing to do with emotions," Justice Jospeh observed.

Murder convicts are languishing in jails without remission: SC

The Supreme Court even went on to observe that this was a heinous offence and murder convicts are languishing in jails without remission.

The Supreme Court asked the Gujarat Government to apprise it and be ready with the relevant files on April 18, on the policy of remission documents.

The Apex Court wanted to know as to whether this is a case where the standards have been adopted uniformly in other cases also or not.

Does the state have a policy for remission: SC

"No doubt this is a horrendous act. By the way does the state have a policy? any level headed policy? Because there are several people languishing in jail for so many years for murder," the Supreme Court observed.

This is not an ordinary case: Sibal

Senior lawyer, Kapil Sibal said this is not an ordinary case. The matter was transferred from Gujarat to Maharashtra because there was no confidence in Gujarat, and now same state is deciding remission, what is this, Sibal questioned.

Death threat was issued to victim: Singhvi

Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for another petitioner said that the post release conduct of the convicts has death threat to victim which has been brushed aside by the prosecution. This is a death knell.

Rishi Malhotra, lawyer for one of the convicts, opposed the arguments of the petitioners and said that they have a detailed advisory board and they have wide variety of members from social workers to experts and the board also noted that they had good behaviour. 

"They underwent 15.5 years actual sentence and the requirement for remission is 14. This is more of an emotional plea than a regular plea."

Besides filing petition against per-mature release of convicts, Bano had also filed review petition seeking review of its earlier order by which it had asked the Gujarat government to consider the plea for remission of one of the convicts. The review petition was dismissed.

The Gujarat government had released the 11 convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, on August 15. All the 11 life-term convicts in the case were released as per the remission policy prevalent in Gujarat at the time of their conviction in 2008.

In March 2002 during the post-Godhra riots, 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.

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