The Supreme Court on Tuesday (August 23) agreed to hear a petition challenging the remission of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana 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. The petition was filed by CPI(M)’s politburo member Subhashini Ali and two others.
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“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.
The apex court had earlier asked the Gujarat government to consider the plea of remission.
Bilkis Bano, who was pregnant at the time, was gangraped and her three-year-old daughter Saleha was among 14 killed by a mob on March 3, 2002, in Dahod during violence that broke out across the state after the Sabarmati Express was attacked in Godhra and 59 passengers, mainly kar sewaks, were burnt to death.
On August 15, the Gujarat government, under its remission and premature release policy allowed all the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the case, to walk out of the Godhra sub-jail.
The 11 convicts are Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana.
On January 21, 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai had sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment, and the conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.