Bilkis Bano Case: Top Court Notice To Gujarat Over Convicts' Release

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The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the Gujarat government's response on a plea challenging the discharge of 11 men convicted for the gangrape of Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The bench headed by jurist N V Ramana also asked the petitioners to implead people who are granted remission as parties within the matter. The bench also posted the matter for hearing after period of time.

Three Public Interest Litigations - by Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo Member Subhashini Ali, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, and one other petitioner - are filed within the Supreme Court challenging the remission and consequent release of 11 convicts on Independence Day.

The incident become a large political controversy with the special court judge who convicted the boys also raising questions on the Gujarat government's decision.

"Did they ask the judge under whom the case was heard? I can tell you that I heard nothing regarding this... In such cases, the regime must take advice from the central government yet. Did they are doing that? i've got no idea. If they did, what did the central government say," Justice UD Salvi, who retired as a judge of the Bombay tribunal, said in an exclusive interview with one broadcasting channel 

"I do not know if they went through the procedure or not," he had added.

The convicts walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on Assumption of Mary after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. that they had completed over 15 years in jail.

The convicts were welcomed by groups linked to the ruling BJP - with sweets, hugs and garlands. A BJP MLA was quoted as saying that the lads were Brahmins with "good sanskar" (culture).

Days after the convicts' release, Bilkis Bano said it's "shaken" her faith within the justice system and left her "shocked" and "numb". The family has been too distraught to come to a decision on any legal step.

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gangraped while fleeing the violence that broke out after the Godhra train burning. Among those killed was her three-year-old daughter.