Bilkis Bano case: Supreme Court agrees to hear fresh plea challenging release of convicts
The petition is filed by the National Federation of Indian Women, the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India.
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to list a fresh plea filed by the National Federation of Indian Women against the release of all 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, PTI reported.
The National Federation of Indian Women is the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India and is headed by activist Aruna Roy.
A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar said that the application will be tagged along with the main petition in the case and would be heard along with it.
The Supreme Court is hearing two petitions challenging the release of the convicts from a Godhra jail after the Gujarat government approved their application under its remission policy.
The two petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra and by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Subhasini Ali, journalist and filmmaker Revati Laul and Professor Roop Rekha Varma.
The 11 men had gangraped Bano in a village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002, during the riots in Gujarat. She was 19 and pregnant at the time. Fourteen members of her family were also killed in the violence, including her three-year-old daughter whose head was smashed on the ground by the perpetrators.
While the convicts in the case were sentenced to life, the law in India allows the government to set them free after they have served 14 years in prison.
The 11 men were released from the prison on August 15. On the same day, the convicts were greeted with sweets by their relatives after their release. A member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had felicitated them as well.
The premature release of the 11 convicts has been criticised by several civil rights groups and activists. A report also found that some of the convicts had allegedly threatened witnesses in the case and attended political events when out on parole.
One of the convicts had a first information report registered against him for outraging the modesty of a woman while he was on parole in June 2020.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had deferred the hearing in the case after noting that the reply filed by the Gujarat government was “very bulky”.
In an affidavit, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Gujarat government had told the court that the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case were released after getting approval from the Centre.
The Gujarat government had said that the remission was approved by the Union home ministry as the convicts had been in jail for 14 years and their behaviour was found to be good.
The court will hear the case next on November 29.