New Delhi: Two weeks have been granted to the government of Gujarat by the Supreme Court of India to file a response on pleas challenging the release of 11 men convicted for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and multiple murders during the 2002 Gujarat violence.
A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and B V Nagarathna directed the Gujarat government to file all records, which formed the basis for granting remission to all the accused in the case. It asked the state government to file its response within 2 weeks and also asked advocate Rishi Malhotra, representing some of the accused, to file a response, news agency IANS reported.
During the hearing, the top court asked if notice was required to be issued in the second matter if it’s a similar petition, having the same cause of action.
The report quoted Malhotra submitting to the court that “multiple petitions were being filed by people with no ‘locus’ and I am against this impleadment business… They are just multiplying petitions and impleadment applications in every matter.”
The bench said matters can’t be disposed of without issuing notice, and issued notice to Malhotra in the matter and also asked him to take instructions if he could appear for the other accused in the case.
It asked the petitioners to serve a copy on Malhotra and also on counsel for the Gujarat government.
The report quoting the top courts order said it also directed the state government to place all relevant documents, including the remission order, on record, and fixed the matter for further hearing after three weeks.
On August 25, the Supreme Court sought a response from the Gujarat government on a plea challenging the release of 11 convicts, then clarifying that it did not grant permission for remission to the convicts, and instead it asked the government to consider.
Eleven convicts, sentenced to life imprisonment, were released from Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. The convicts had completed more than 15 years in jail.
In January 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai had sentenced the convicts to life imprisonment for gang-rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family. The Bombay High Court upheld their conviction.
Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the violence that broke out after the Godhra train burning.