The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Gujarat government over 11 convicts’ release in the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of his family members during the Godhra riots of Gujarat.
A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Ajay Rastogi, and Justice Vikram Nath issued notice to the state government
The court asked, “Issue notice. File your reply. We direct the 11 convicts to be impleaded in the case.”
The plea was filed by members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Subhashini Ali, Journalist Ravati Laul, and social activist and professor Roop Rekha Verma.
“It is submitted that it would appear that the constitution of members of the competent authority of the Gujarat government also bore allegiance to a political party, and also was sitting MLAs. As such, it would appear that the competent authority was not an authority that was entirely independent, and one that could independently apply its mind to the facts at hand,” the plea stated.
“The 11 persons were sentenced to life imprisonment for commission of the offenses of, inter alia, gang-rape and murder of multiple people during the large-scale communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 on January 18, 2008, passed by the Sessions Court in Greater Mumbai and the conviction was upheld by way of Judgment dated May 4, 2017, passed by High Court of Mumbai,” the petition stated.
Meanwhile, the CBI investigated the case of 11 convicts.
“The remission in this heinous case would be entirely against public interest and would shock the collective public conscience, as also be entirely against the interests of the victim (whose family has publicly made statements worrying for her safety),” read the plea.
“It is submitted that on such facts (facts of the case), no right-thinking authority applying any test under any extant policy would consider it fit to grant remission to persons who are found to have been involved in the commission of such gruesome acts,” the plea said.
Moreover, the 11 convicts who have been released are – Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhia, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana.
Notably, on 15 August all the accused were released who were sentenced to life imprisonment. In March 2002, Bano was allegedly gang-raped during the post-Godhra riots in which 14 members of her family died.