SC rejects Bilkis plea seeking review of its earlier order | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC rejects Bilkis plea seeking review of its earlier order

ByAbraham Thomas
Dec 17, 2022 11:06 PM IST

NEW DELHI The Supreme Court has dismissed a review petition filed by the 2002 Gujarat riots survivor Bilkis Bano, seeking a review of its May 2022 order by which the state government was directed to consider the convicts’ plea for premature release in accordance with a 1992 remission policy – the one prevalent on the date of their conviction

NEW DELHI The Supreme Court has dismissed a review petition filed by the 2002 Gujarat riots survivor Bilkis Bano, seeking a review of its May 2022 order by which the state government was directed to consider the convicts’ plea for premature release in accordance with a 1992 remission policy – the one prevalent on the date of their conviction.

New Delhi, Nov 11 (ANI): A flock of birds passes by the complex of the Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI Photo) (Shrikant Singh)
New Delhi, Nov 11 (ANI): A flock of birds passes by the complex of the Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI Photo) (Shrikant Singh)

Another petition by Bano challenging the remission of the sentences of the 11 convicts by the Gujarat government is pending before the top court.

A bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath dismissed Bano’s plea on December 13 and the decision was communicated to her counsel by way of a letter on December 16. “In our opinion, there appears no error apparent on the face of record, which may call for review of the judgment dated May 13, 2022,” the bench said in its order.

Refusing permission sought by Bano’s lawyer Shobha Gupta for an open court hearing, the bench said, “In our opinion, no case for review is made out. None of the judgments on which reliance has been placed are of any assistance to the review petitioner. The review petition is accordingly dismissed.”

Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the violence during the 2002 Gujarat riots, and her three-year-old daughter was one of the seven people killed.

The 11 men were released on August 15 after one of them, Radheshyam Shah, approached the Supreme Court in April seeking remission, arguing that they had spent over 15 years in prison in the case.

This decision sparked public outrage and was challenged in a clutch off petitions filed before the Supreme Court. The petitioners were TMC MP Mahua Moitra, former CPI MP Subhashini Ali, journalist Revati Laul, and professor Roop Rekha Verma.

In her review petition, Bilkis alleged that she being the victim was not heard by the court, due to which she had no information about the decision of the apex court paving the way for early release of the 11 convicts. She accused Radheyshyam, the petitioner who obtained the May 13 order, of concealing the “egregious nature of the crime” for which he was convicted, which amounted to committing fraud on the court.

She further informed the court that the convict Radheyshyam “cleverly” concealed the name of the victim Bilkis Bano, which became synonymous with the Gujarat riots, and failed to inform the top court about an order passed on July 17, 2019 by the Gujarat high court which held that since the trial of the case had been shifted by the Supreme Court from Gujarat to Maharashtra in 2004 and the Mumbai court having convicted the accused, the Maharashtra government would be competent to decide their plea of remission and not Gujarat. This order was not challenged by the convict, Bilkis alleged in her review plea.

The May 13 order had noted the July 2019 order and came to the conclusion that the Gujarat government will be the appropriate government to decide the remission or premature release under Section 432(7) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Though the trial had shifted from Dahod, Gujarat to Mumbai, the top court said that this was for the limited purpose of trial and the state where the crime was committed will remain the competent government to decide on remission.

The judgment said, “Once the crime was committed in the state of Gujarat, after the trial has been concluded and judgment of conviction came to be passed, all further proceedings have to be considered, including remission or premature release, in terms of the policy which is applicable in the state of Gujarat where the crime was committed and not the state where the trial stands transferred and concluded for exceptional reasons under the orders of this court.”

Last month, Bano filed a separate petition in the top court challenging the remission of the sentences of the 11 convicts by the state government, saying their premature release has “shaken the conscience of the society”.

On December 13, Bano’s separate plea challenging the remission of the sentences of the 11 convicts came up for hearing before a bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi.

Justice Trivedi recused herself from hearing the plea. “List the matter before a bench in which one of us is not a member,” the bench had said, without specifying any reason for Justice Trivedi’s recusal.

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