Supreme Court rejects Bilkis Bano’s review petition against its judgment which paved the way for remission of convicts

The Supreme Court has refused to review its May judgment allowing the Gujarat government to decide on the remission of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.


THE Supreme Court has rejected Bilkis Bano’s review petition against its judgment passed in May which allowed the Gujarat government to consider the application for premature release of 11 persons convicted for the gangrape of Bano and the rape and murder of her family members, and directed it to follow its remission policy of 1992, which was applicable when the said persons were convicted for rape and murder.

The order dismissing Bano’s petition was passed in the chambers by Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath on December 13, but the dismissal order was only made available on December 17. In chambers would mean that Bano was denied the opportunity to advance oral arguments in open court seeking a review of the May judgment.

Another petition by Bilkis Bano challenging the decision of the Gujarat government to grant remission to the 11 convicts remains pending before the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Justice Bela M. Trivedi recused herself from hearing the petition without citing any reason. It will now be heard by another division bench comprising Justice Rastogi after the court vacations.

On May 13, a division bench of Justices Rastogi and Nath had held that the application for remission of the 11 convicts shall be considered by the Gujarat government since the crimes they were convicted of were committed in Gujarat and the case had been transferred to Maharashtra for the limited purpose of trial and disposal. The court also directed the Gujarat government to consider the application as per the state’s remission policy of July 1992, which was applicable when the trial of the 11 convicts concluded in 2008.

The Supreme Court’s May judgment arose from a writ petition filed by one of the convicts, Radheshyam (alias Lala Vakil), seeking a direction to the Gujarat government to consider his application for premature release as per the 1992 policy. His application was dismissed by the Bombay High Court in 2013.

In its order dismissing Bano’s review petition, the division bench has held it found no error apparent on the face of record, which may call for review of the judgment dated 13th May.”

The 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case were granted remission for “good behaviour” by the Gujarat government on August 10 this year, which resulted in their release after 15 years of imprisonment that involved multiple paroles and furloughs.

The said persons were convicted under Section 302 (murder) read with Section 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed with common object) of the Indian Penal Code for murdering 14 people, including a two day-old infant and a three-and-a-half year-old girl. They were also convicted under Sections 376(2)(g) (committing rape during communal or sectarian violence) and 376D (gang rape) of the Code.

Click here to view the Supreme Court’s full order.

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