SC agrees to form special bench to hear Bilkis Bano’s plea against release of rape convicts

Bilkis Bano

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to constitute a special bench to hear a plea by Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped during the 2002 Gujarat riots, against the remission of the sentence of 11 convicts in the case.

Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said he will constitute a special bench to hear the batch of petitions challenging the premature release of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder case.

CJI Chandrachud said this after Advocate Shobha Gupta appearing for Bilkis Bano raised the matter during mentioning hours when matters that require urgent attention are brought to the notice of the Chief Justice.

Gupta told the bench also comprising Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala that the matter was currently listed before Justice Ajay Rastogi who was sitting in combination with Justice Bela M Trivedi, who had recused from hearing it. She urged the court to set up a special bench to hear it, The Indian Express reports.

Taking note, CJI said, “I will have a bench constituted. Will look at it this evening.”

No reasons had been given for Justice Trivedi’s recusal. She was law secretary to the Gujarat government from 2004 to 2006.

Bilkis was gang-raped and her three-year-old daughter was among 14 people killed by a mob on March 3, 2002, in the Limkheda taluka of Gujarat’s Dahod district during riots. The 11 convicts were released on August 15 last year.

Bilkis Bano termed it as “one of the most gruesome crimes this country has ever seen” and added that the premature release of the convicts came as a shock not only to her, but to her grown-up daughters, family, and to society at large, nationally and internationally. Narrating what she went through, Bilkis said their premature release has also “relived” her “trauma”.

On December 13, 2022, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea by Bilkis, seeking a review of its May 2022 order which said the Gujarat government was the appropriate government to decide the prayer for remission by one of the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the case, and that the state’s 1992 remission policy would apply in the matter. ( With PTI inputs)


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