Supreme Court judge Justice Bela M Trivedi on Wednesday recused herself from hearing a group of petitions challenging the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission of sentence to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, PTI reported.
A bench comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Trivedi was hearing petitions filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Subhashini Ali, journalist Revati Laul, former Lucknow University vice-chancellor Roop Rekha Verma and Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra.
Justice Rastogi said that Justice Trivedi had earlier recused herself from hearing a petition filed by Bano challenging the remission, and so, she will refrain from hearing this case as well.
On December 13, Justice Trivedi had recused herself from hearing Bano’s petition as she had been deputed as the law secretary in the Gujarat government from 2004 to 2006, according to Live Law.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that Bano’s petition will be taken up as the lead matter and the other pleas will be tagged along with it. The case will now be heard by a different bench of the court.
“We will list all the matters on the next date and tag along all the petitions,” the court said. “All the pleadings should be complete by then.”
The 11 men were convicted for having gangraped Bano in a village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002, during the communal 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.
The men were freed on August 15 from a Godhra jail after the Gujarat government approved their application under its remission policy.
In May, a bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Rastogi had held that the Gujarat government had the jurisdiction to decide on remission as the crime took place in that state. It overturned a verdict of the Gujarat High Court saying that the Maharashtra government had the authority to decide on remission, as the trial was held in Mumbai.
In her petition, Bano argued that given the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Maharashtra government should have heard the remission application.