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Bilkis Bano case: SC posts to start hearing of pleas against remission to 11 convicts from August 7

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it will start final hearing from August 7 of a batch of petitions challenging the pre-mature release of 11 convicts who had gang raped Bilkis Bano and murdered her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots.
A bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan said that the pleadings in the case have been completed and notices served on all the convicts. The bench said the parties, who wish to file their replies, written submissions, synopsis, and list of dates, are at liberty to do so.
“We list the matter for final hearing on August 7. All parties should file short written submissions, synopsis and list of dates," the bench said in its order.
It also allowed the convicts to file their counter affidavits on the petitions challenging the remission.
Earlier, the apex court had directed the publication of notice in local newspapers, including in Gujarati and English, against the convict who could not be served notice.
Bilkis Bano and others had approached the top court challenging the pre-mature release of 11 convicts.
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.
Some PILs were filed seeking directions to revoke the remission granted 11 convicts.
The pleas were filed by National Federation of Indian Women, whose General Secretary is Annie Raja, Member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Subhashini Ali, journalist Revati Laul, social activist and professor Roop Rekha Verma and TMC MP Mahua Moitra.
Gujarat government in its affidavit had defended remission granted to convicts saying they completed 14 years sentence in prison and their “behavior was found to be good”.
The State government had said it has considered the cases of all 11 convicts as per the policy of 1992 and remission was granted on August 10, 2022 and Central government also approved the release of convicts.
It is pertinent to note that the remission was not granted under the circular governing grant of remission to prisoners as part of celebration of "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, it had said.
The affidavit had stated, “State government considered all the opinions and decided to release 11 prisoners since they have completed 14 years and above in prisons and their behaviour wasfound to be good.”
The government had also questioned the locus standi of petitioners who filed the PIL challenging the decision saying they are outsiders to the case.
The pleas said they have challenged the order of competent authority of the government of Gujarat by way of which 11 persons who were accused in a set of heinous offences committed in Gujarat were allowed to walk free on August, 15, 2022, pursuant to remission being extended to them.
The remission in this heinous case would be entirely against public interest and would shock the collective public conscience, as also be entirely against the interests of the victim (whose family has publicly made statements worrying for her safety), pleas stated.
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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