[Bilkis Bano] Supreme Court bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna to hear plea on March 27

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In December last year Justice Bela M. Trivedi of the Supreme Court had recused from hearing the petition by Bano.

The Supreme Court has constituted a bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagaratha to hear the petition filed by rape survivor Bilkis Bano, challenging the remission granted to 11 convicts who gangraped her in Gujarat in 2002.

This bench will be hearing Bano's plea on March 27, i.e., Monday.

Two days ago, the CJI had said that he would appoint a special bench to hear the petition, after the same was mentioned before him by Advocate Shobha Gupta.

"I will constitute a bench, will have to break two benches and create a new one for this..", the CJI said.

In December last year Justice Bela M. Trivedi of the Supreme Court had recused from hearing the petition by Bano, and the bench also comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi had therefore adjourned the case by Bano seeking a review against the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered in May 2022 which held that Gujarat Government has the jurisdiction to decide the remission plea of the convicts, although the trial was held in Maharashtra.

On August 16, 2022 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.

In her petition, Bano has stated that she was not even made party respondent by the accused persons in the writ petition concerning remission and that this was the reason that she had absolutely no information of the filing or pendency of the said writ petition or the order passed therein by the Top Court till the writ petitioner and other 10 co-convicts/prisoners were prematurely released on 15.08.2022.

She has submitted that the accused persons concealed important documents/ material from the Supreme Court which are very necessary for proper adjudication of the review petition and issue in hand, the present petitioner would therefore be filing an application seeking permission to bring on record additional facts and documents.

She has stated that the accused persons remained absolutely silent and did not disclose the egregious nature of the crime for which the writ petitioner and his co-accused were convicted by the Trial Court, High Court and the Top Court, which is nothing less than deliberately playing fraud upon the Apex Court with an intention to mislead.

She has further alleged that the accused persons have concealed the facts of interference by the Supreme Court in this case at a very initial stage when the criminal case was closed by the State Investigating Agency and the trial court concerned on the ground that the accused are not traceable.

“The matter was reopened only due to intervention of this Hon'ble Court at that stage. The Central Bureau of Investigation was directed by this Hon’ble Court to conduct the investigation afresh. It is only thereafter the accused could be brought to book, extremely shocking facts were revealed showing deliberate acts by the concerned police officials and the doctors to frustrate the investigation and the evidence, charge-sheet was filed which finally resulted into conviction of all the 11 accused,” the plea read.

She has stated that the accused persons have very cleverly hidden the name of the victim i.e. Bilkis Bano who is alive. She also stated that the accused persons did not challenge the order of the Gujarat High Court that dismissed their Writ petition holding that their case for remission can only be considered by the State of Maharashtra and not by the State of Gujarat as he was convicted by the Court of State of Maharashtra.

Case Title: Bilkis Yakub Rasool vs. Union of India & Ors.