Bilkis Bano case: SC says it will examine if convicts were given preferential treatment
A bench comprising Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan remarked that there are some convicts who are “more privileged” as usually cases are filed against denial of early release
The Supreme Court on Thursday said that it will be required to examine if remission applications of convicts in the Bilkis Bano case were given any preferential treatment by the Gujarat government.
A bench comprising Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan remarked that there are some convicts who are “more privileged” as usually cases are filed against denial of early release.
The bench was considering the batch of pleas filed against the Gujarat government's decision allowing early release of convicts in the case of gang rape of Bilkis and murder of her family members committed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
During the hearing, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for a convict, put forth that the seriousness of crime cannot be a factor for challenging the early release as grant of remission is meant for rehabilitation and reformation of offenders.
The matter is likely to continue on September 20.
In an earlier hearing, the Supreme Court had questioned convicts for approaching the trial court in Mumbai and depositing the fine imposed on them without awaiting its decision on their interlocutory application moved before the top court.
The convicts said that though non-deposition of fine does not affect the decision on remission, yet it was deposited to "reduce the controversy".
The top court had noted that the fine was not paid when the Gujarat government allowed release of these 11 convicts under its remission policy on August 15 last year.
The petitioners had pointed out before the Supreme Court that the convicts did not pay the fines imposed on them and non-payment of fine renders remission order illegal.
The convicts had argued that applications seeking early release were considered by the Gujarat government pursuant to an earlier order of the top court and remission order having an essence of judicial order cannot be challenged by way of filing a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution
The 11 men convicted in the case were released on August 15 last year, after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. The convicts had completed 15 years in jail.