Jammu & Kashmir

Bilkis Bano case: Gujarat Govt wants SC to delete remarks against it, files review plea

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Supreme Court of India. [File Photo]

New Delhi: The Gujarat government on Tuesday filed a review petition with the Supreme Court, requesting the expungement of specific remarks critical of the government’s conduct in the premature release of 11 rape convicts involved in the Bilkis Bano case.

The state argued that these adverse remarks, included in the apex court’s judgement, had caused substantial prejudice to the Gujarat government and sought their removal.

The Gujarat government emphasised that its actions were in strict accordance with the mandamus issued by the Supreme Court through its judgment in May 2022. The state government had acted upon the direction to consider the remission application of one of the convicts. It defended its position by asserting that it had not usurped the jurisdiction of the State of Maharashtra but had followed the Supreme Court’s directive.

The context of this legal action arises from the Supreme Court’s decision on January 8, which overturned the Gujarat government’s order granting remission to the 11 convicts convicted of gang-raping Bilkis Bano and murdering her family during the 2002 Godhra violence.

The top court ruled that the Gujarat government did not have the competence to pass remission orders; instead, this authority rested with the Maharashtra government.

The judgment clarified that the appropriate government to decide remission was the state within whose territorial limits the accused were sentenced, not where the crime occurred or the accused were imprisoned.

Furthermore, the court held that the Gujarat government’s remission orders were obtained by “playing fraud” and suppressing material facts during the proceedings.

It accused the Gujarat government of usurping the powers of the Maharashtra government and characterised the actions as an “abuse of discretion.”

The Gujarat government, in its review plea, objected to the Supreme Court’s observation that the state was complicit with the convict and accused the court of committing an “error apparent on the face of the record.”

The government argued that the Supreme Court’s judgment, holding Gujarat guilty of “usurpation of power,” was inconsistent with the earlier directive that recognized the state as the “appropriate government” under section 432(7) of the CrPC.

In its attempt to address the legal intricacies and contest the Supreme Court’s characterization of its actions, the Gujarat government filed the review petition, emphasising that it released the 11 convicts in adherence to the remission policy prevalent in Gujarat at the time of their conviction in 2008.

The Bilkis Bano case involves allegations of gang rape and violence against Bano and her family during the post-Godhra violence in March 2002.

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