The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned the paroles granted by the Gujarat government to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna said the gravity of the offence could have been considered by the state.
It said, “A pregnant woman was gang-raped and several people were killed. You cannot compare victim’s case with standard Section 302 (murder) cases. Like you cannot compare apples with oranges, similarly massacre cannot be compared with single murder. Crimes are generally committed against society and the community. Unequals cannot be treated equally.”
Seeking reasons for remission
It added that just because the Union government has concurred with state’s decision does not mean state is not required to apply its mind.
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“The question is whether government applied its mind and what material formed the basis of its decision to grant remission,” the bench said, adding, “today it is Bilkis, but tomorrow it can be anyone. It may be you or me. If you do not show your reasons for grant of remission, then we will draw our own conclusions.”
The bench posted the batch of pleas challenging the remission to the convicts in Bilkis Bano case for final disposal on May 2 and asked all the convicts who have not been served notices to file their replies.
Centre, Guj govt may file review plea
The Centre and the Gujarat government told the Supreme Court that they may file a plea seeking a review of its March 27 order asking them to be ready with original files on the grant of remission to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.
The court asked the Centre and the state to make its stand clear about filing of a review plea.
On March 27, terming Bilkis Bano’s gang-rape and the murder of her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots as a “horrendous” act, the Supreme Court had asked the Gujarat government whether uniform standards, as followed in other cases of murder, were applied while granting remission to the 11 convicts in the case.
Also read: Bilkis Bano case: SC notice to Centre, Gujarat govt on plea against remission to convicts
It had sought a response from the Centre, Gujarat government and others on a plea filed by Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped and seven members of her family were killed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Bano has challenged the remission of sentence of 11 convicts in the case.
All the 11 convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government and released on August 15 last year.
The top court is seized of PILs filed by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, an independent journalist Revati Laul, former vice chancellor of the Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma, and TMC MP Mahua Moitra against the release of the convicts.
Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed.
(With Agency inputs)