Bilkis Bano moved the Supreme Court challenging the premature release of 11 people convicted of gangraping her and murdering her family during the 2002 Gujarat Riots. The en masse premature release of the convicts on August 15 has shaken the conscience of the society, Bano said.
Bano has also filed a plea challenging the top court's May 13 order which paved the way for the Gujarat government to consider the appeals for early release.
While the nation was celebrating our country's 76th Independence Day, all the convicts were prematurely released and felicitated with garlands and sweets in full public glare, Bano said. It was reported that in the aftermath of their release, Muslims of the Rahimadabad (Gujarat) area started fleeing in fear of these 11 convicts, the plea said.
The appeal further noted that it has taken Bano— victim of one of the most gruesome and inhuman communal hate crimes this country has ever witnessed— "enormous efforts and time" to file this plea. Bano had to "collect courage and regroup herself to decide to hold the baton once again". The first time around, it took Bano an "extremely excruciating" 17-year-long legal battle to ensure her culprits were punished for the egregious crime they had committed, the plea added.
In her review plea, Bano further contended that the Gujarat government has shown an "exceptional level of leniency and non-application of mind" while considering the premature release of the 11 convicts.
Supreme Court on August 25 issued notice on a plea that challenged the clemency granted to the 11 convicts. Bano's plea has been tagged with the plea filed by CPI (M) leader Subhashini Ali, journalist Revati Laul and Professor Roop Rekha who submitted that 14 years was not enough punishment for such a heinous crime.
BOOM recaps the twin appeals below.
'Convict played fraud with Supreme Court'
Bilkis Bano sought a review of the Supreme Court's May 13 order that allowed the Gujarat government to consider appeals for premature release.
On an appeal filed by Radheysham Bhagwandas Shah, one of the 11 convicts, Supreme Court ruled that remission must be considered in accordance with the policy of the state where the crime took place. The Gujarat High Court had dismissed Shah's appeal observing that the Maharashtra government had jurisdiction since the trial took place there.
The premature release of all 11 convicts was processed after this order.
Shah "concealed" relevant facts and "deliberately played fraud" with "an intention to mislead" the Supreme Court to "procure a favourable order" including keeping mum on the nature of the crime for which he was convicted, Bano said.
Bano didn't have an 'inkling'
Bilkis Bano found out about the premature release of her perpetrators through media reports. "The worst part was that nobody, not even the present petitioner who was the victim of the crime, had any inkling about any such process of remission/premature release initiated or undertaken or having been concluded in the shape of a decision to release all the convicts of the case prematurely," her plea drafted by advocate Shobha Gupta read.
It "required digging" to know all the facts that led to the release of the 11 convicts, Bano's plea added. Bano received all documents pertaining to the release of her perpetrators only after intervention from the Supreme Court.
In accordance with policies, the victim or her family is expected to be consulted on a remission application. While Bano in her plea suggests she had no "inkling", the Gujarat government's affidavit suggests that her opinion was sought in only one of the 11 cases.
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