A special three-judge bench of the Supreme Court has sought the response of the Gujarat government on a plea challenging the exemption granted by the state to the 11 life convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case.
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, who headed the bench, directed the petitioners to implicate the 11 convicts as respondents in the case.
Issuing the notice, the bench asked the state to file its reply and posted the matter after two weeks.
The petition challenging the release of the convicts on August 15 was filed by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, independent journalist and filmmaker Revathi Laul and former philosophy professor and activist Roop Rekha Verma.
“Fourteen people were killed; A pregnant woman and several other women were raped; The head of a three-year-old boy was slammed on the ground. The accused have been identified… we are asking in these circumstances what is the judicial review of the court in terms of exemptions,” asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal for the petitioners on the bench also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath. .
Sibal said that the petitioners are seeking the court to re-examine the record of apology and see whether any application of mind was made by the state.
Justice Rastogi observed that the convicts were convicted for their offense and the question here was of the relevant scheme under which exemption was granted.
The Gujarat government had relied on its 1992 exemption policy, and not the current 2014 policy, to clear applications for condonation of convicts.
In May 2022, the apex court had directed the Gujarat government to consider the application for premature release of one of the convicts, Radheshyam Bhagwandas Shah alias Lala Vakil, with reference to the July 9, 1992 exemption policy. The 1992 policy was in vogue. date of conviction.
The Supreme Court has followed up in its judgment in State of Haryana v Jagdish, which held that the policy applicable at the time of sentencing should be considered for deciding an application for premature release.
In its May 13 judgment, the court had concluded that Gujarat was the “appropriate government” under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to decide the acquittal of the convicts in the case.
25 August 2022