Two of the 11 men convicted in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case have moved the Supreme Court against its January 8 order cancelling the remission granted to them, reported PTI on Saturday.

On January 8, the Supreme Court quashed the Gujarat government order that granted remission to 11 men convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for gangraping Bilkis Bano and murdering 14 members of her family during the 2002 communal riots in the State.

The judges held that the Supreme Court’s order in May 2022 directing the Gujarat government to decide the remission was secured by suppressing facts and fraud played on the court. Radheshyam Shah, one of the convicts, had suppressed material facts to get a favourable order, which led to the release of all convicts, the court had said.

In their plea, Shah and another convict Rajubhai Babulal Soni have contended that an “anomalous” situation has arisen as two benches of the Supreme Court have taken opposite views on the issue of remission.

They said that while one of the top court on May 13, 2022, ordered the Gujarat government to consider Shah’s application for early release, the two-judge bench that pronounced the January 8 verdict concluded that the Maharashtra government was the competent authority to decide on the matter and not the Gujarat government.

“In another words, a fundamental issue arises for consideration as to whether a subsequent co-ordinate bench can set aside its earlier judgement rendered by its earlier co-ordinate bench and pass contradictory orders/judgments overruling its earlier view or the proper course would have been to refer the matter to a larger bench in case it felt that the earlier judgment was passed in wrong appreciation of law and facts,” the plea said.

The two convicts have sought a direction to the Centre to consider their case for remission.

Shah has also filed a bail application.

January 8 order

The convicts were released on August 15, 2022, after the Gujarat government granted them remission.

On January 8, while pronouncing the judgment, Justice BV Nagarathna stated that the Gujarat government did not have the power to pass the remission order. The government of the state where the trial had taken place, which in this case is Maharashtra, is the appropriate authority that can pass such orders as per Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Nagarathna held.

The court had ordered the 11 convicts to surrender before jail authorities within two weeks.

On January 19, the court rejected the pleas of the convicts who sought more time to surrender. They had cited the ill health of ageing parents, a wedding in the family and crop harvest as reasons to delay their surrender.

The Gujarat government has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against the January 8 judgement saying that some of the remarks made in the verdict about the state were “highly unwarranted”.

The government’s review petition argues that the top court’s observation that the state of Gujarat “acted in tandem and was complicit with the accused” has caused great prejudice to the state.