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The bench was hearing a plea filed by Communist Party of India leader Subhashini Ali challenging the remission order issued allowing release of 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano rape case.
The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on a limited aspect as to whether the remission granted to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano rape case was within the parameters of the law.
A bench of the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Ajay Rastogi, and Justice Vikram Nath noted, "Whatever they have committed, they have been convicted. The question is whether the remission was in the parameters of law".
The petition filed by the Communist Party of India leader Subhashini Ali and Member of Lok Sabha Mahua Moitra has challenged the release of 11 Convicted Rapists of Bilkis Bano who were released on the basis of a Remission Order.
The Court while issuing notice in the matter, said, "Merely because the act was horrific, is that sufficient to say remission is wrong? Day in and day out remission is granted to convicts of life sentence, what is the exception?"
Additionally, the Court directed the convicts to be made a party in the matter.
Earlier on August 16, all 11 life imprisonment convicts in the 2002 post-Godhra Bilkis Bano gang-rape case of Gujarat were released from the Godhra sub-jail, after a state government panel approved their application for remission of sentence.
Raj Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) had stated, "The 11 convicts have served a total of 14 years. A life sentence means a minimum of 14 years in prison, after which the convict can apply for remission. It is then up to the government to decide whether or not to consider the application. Prisoners are granted remission based on eligibility after the recommendation of the prison advisory committee and district legal authorities."
Kumar had further stated that among the parameters considered are age, nature of the crime, behavior in prison, and so on, and after considering all of the factors, the convicts in the present case were also deemed eligible because they had served 14 years of their life sentence.
Following an in-camera trial in Mumbai in this case , CBI special court judge U D Salvi convicted 13 accused, sentencing 11 to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder on January 21, 2008. The Bombay High Court upheld the conviction in May 2017.
Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana are among the 11 who have been released.
On March 3, 2002, Bilkis was gang-raped and her three-year-old daughter Saleha was among the 14 persons who were killed by a mob in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district. Bilkis was pregnant at the time of the incident.
After Bilkis approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Supreme Court ordered a CBI investigation into the matter.
In August 2004, after Bilkis alleged death threats from the accused, the Supreme Court directed the trial to be transferred from Gujarat to Maharashtra.
Case Title: Subhashini Ali Vs. The State of Gujarat & Anr.
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