Three petitions challenging the release of 11 men convicted for thbe gangrape of Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riots will be heard by the Supreme Court tomorrow. The convicts were released by the Gujarat government on Independence Day under an outdated remission policy, which turned into a huge political controversy.
On Tuesday, the court agreed to consider the petitions filed by CPM Politburo member Subhashini Ali, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, and one other person. A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana agreed to hear the matter after submissions by senior advocates Kapil Sibal (appearing for Ms Ali) and Abhishek Singhvi (appearing for Ms Moitra), and lawyer Aparna Bhat.
The convicts were sentenced to life term in prison by a special court in Mumbai for the gangrape and the murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family. The sentence was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.
The Supreme Court passed on the matter of remission to the state government after one of the convicts had approached it with an appeal for release.
The Gujarat government decided to release all the men after a unanimous recommendation from a panel that included multiple members with link to the BJP.
What made it more controversial was that the recommendation was based on a 1992 remission policy of the state, which did not have restrictions on premature release of those convicted for rape or sentenced to life imprisonment. It was updated by the state later in line with the Central policy that does not allow remission of sentence for convicts serving life term or those convicted for gang-rape.