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Bilkis Bano case: SC issues notice to Gujarat government

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New Delhi, Aug 24: Supreme Court on Thursday sought the response of the Gujarat government on a plea challenging the remission granted to 11 convicts in the case of gang rape of 2002 Gujarat riots survivor Bilkis Bano and the murder of her seven family members.

Bilkis Bano case: SC to hear plea to revoke remission of 11 convicts today

The apex court issued the notice to the Gujarat government and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks. "Issue notice. File your reply. We direct the 11 convicts to be impleaded in the case," Bar and Bench quoted the bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana as saying.

During the hearing, the court asked whether there was application of mind while granting remission. "The question is, under Gujarat rules, are the convicts entitled to remission or not? We've to see whether there was application of mind in this case while granting remission," the court said.

Petitioner counsel and senior advocate Kapil Sibal said, "Please see the petition. Large number of lives were lost in communal riots. Even in Limkheda village of Dahod district, arson, looting and violence took place. Bano and Shamin with others were escaping. Shamim delivered a child..When the group of 25 people saw the prosecutrix and others escape, they said musalmaano ko maaro. 3-year-old child head was smashed to the ground, pregnant was raped,"

Earlier on Tuesday, the court took note of the submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal and lawyer Aparna Bhat against the grant of remission and consequent release of the convicts in the case.

"We are only challenging the remission and not the Supreme Court order. The Supreme Court order is fine, My Lords. We are challenging the principles on the basis of which remission was granted," Sibal said.

Last week, the 11 convicts walked out of the Godhra sub-jail after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy.

No justification: Devendra Fadnavis on Bilkis Bano convicts' felicitationNo justification: Devendra Fadnavis on Bilkis Bano convicts' felicitation

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008, sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

The 11 convicts who were granted premature release are Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radheshyam Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana.

The convicts were released under the Gujarat government's remission policy after they completed more than 15 years in jail.

On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano's family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district during the post-Godhra riots. Bilkis, who was five months pregnant at that time, was gang-raped and seven members of her family were killed.

The Supreme Court had in April 2019 directed the Gujarat government to give Rs 50 lakh compensation, a job and accommodation to Bilkis.

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