'Heinous crime committed with Bilkis Bano', Supreme Court notice to Gujarat and Central government against release of convicts
Supreme Court on Bilkis Bano Case: The Supreme Court heard on Monday the premature release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. Hearing a petition challenging the release of the convicts, the Supreme Court has issued notices to the Gujarat and Central governments.
Bilkis Bano, the victim of the 2002 Gujarat riots, feeling cheated by the premature release of the culprits, now seems to be getting hope of justice. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard a petition challenging the premature release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice B.V. Nagaratna's bench issued a notice to the Center and the Gujarat government after the hearing. The bench directed the parties involved in the matter to complete the arguments by the next date of hearing and also asked the state government to be ready with the relevant files relating to granting immunity to the convicts on the next date of hearing. The bench issued notice on a plea filed against the premature release of 11 people convicted in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case and murder of her family members, terming the crime as horrific.
At the beginning of the hearing, the bench said that before hearing the petition, the court would like to know what is the scope of the issues, which would help in knowing the framework within which the issues are to be considered. Advocate Shobha Gupta, representing Bilkis Bano, said that the release of the convicts, in this case, should be decided where the trial was held. and not in the State where the offence was committed. It may be known that the trial of this case took place in Maharashtra.
During the hearing of the matter, the bench orally observed that the crime was gruesome. Advocate Vrinda Grover, representing one of the petitioners, argued that the trial judge had said that no exemption should be granted and the CBI had also said that exemption should not be granted, yet he was released.
Grover also told the court that another case of molestation of a woman was registered against the convict while he was on parole and it was completely ignored while granting the exemption. During the hearing in the matter, it was argued that all the pleas against the release of the 11 convicts were emotional pleas.
The bench said it is only on law and has nothing to do with sentiments. Describing the crime against Bilkis Bano and her family as heinous, the bench made it clear that the matter would be decided on the basis of law. After hearing detailed submissions, the top court listed the matter for further hearing on April 18.
Terming the release order as mechanical, the petition states that the premature release of the convicts in the high-profile Bilkis Bano case has shaken the conscience of society and resulted in several agitations across the country. All 11 convicts were given immunity by the Gujarat government and released on August 15 last year.
A batch of petitions has been filed against the release of 11 convicts, including the one filed by Bilkis Bano. Other petitions were filed by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, National Federation of Indian Women, Meeran Chadha Borwankar and Asma Shafiq Shaikh and others. The apex court has issued notice on all the petitions filed in the matter.