by Muslim Mirror News
The Supreme Court has raised concerns about the parole granted to 11 convicts while they were serving their prison sentences. The Court suggested that the seriousness of their crimes should have been taken into account by the state authorities when deciding whether to grant them parole.
On Tuesday, the Central government and the Gujarat state government informed the Supreme Court that they are considering the possibility of submitting a request for a review of the Court’s March 27th directive. This directive had instructed them to keep the original files related to the granting of remission to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case ready for inspection.
The justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna raised concerns about the paroles granted to 11 convicts while they were serving their prison sentences. They suggested that the state should have taken into account the severity of their crimes when deciding whether to grant them parole.
“A pregnant woman was gang-raped and several people were killed. You cannot compare victim’s case with standard section 302 (murder) cases. Like you cannot compare apples with oranges, similarly massacre cannot be compared with single murder. Crimes are generally committed against society and the community. Unequals cannot be treated equally,” the bench said.
“The question is whether government applied its mind and what material formed the basis of its decision to grant remission,” the bench said, adding, “Today it is Bilkis but tomorrow it can be anyone. It may be you or me. If you do not show your reasons for grant of remission, then we will draw our own conclusions.”
The panel of judges scheduled the set of petitions that dispute the remission granted to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case for a final hearing on May 2nd. They also requested all convicts who have not yet received any notices to submit their responses. Furthermore, they directed the Central and state governments to clarify their position on submitting a review plea.
In a hearing on March 27th, the Supreme Court referred to the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots as a heinous act. The Court had inquired if the same standards were applied to the granting of remission to the 11 convicts in the case, as those applied in other murder cases.
The Court had sought responses from the Gujarat government, the Central government, and other concerned parties in response to a petition filed by Bilkis Bano, who had been gang-raped, and whose seven family members were killed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Bilkis Bano has contested the reduction of the sentences of the 11 convicts who were involved in her case. These convicts were granted a reduction in their sentences by the Gujarat government, and were released on August 15 of last year.
The Supreme Court has received public interest petitions from Subhashini Ali, a leader of the CPI(M), Revati Laul, an independent journalist, Roop Rekha Verma, a former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University, and Mahua Moitra, a member of the TMC, opposing the release of these convicts.
Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing from the riots that erupted following the Godhra train burning incident. Among the seven members of her family who were killed, her three-year-old daughter was also included.