The Supreme Court on Friday gave the Gujarat government two weeks time to respond to petitions challenging the remission of sentence and release of 11 convicts in the case of Bilkis Bano gang-rape and murder of her family members in the 2002 Gujarat riots, Live Law reported.
A bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and BV Nagarathna asked the counsel for Gujarat government to file their response in two weeks. The bench added that rejoinder, if any, should be submitted within a week after that.
The counsel said that the state would submit all the details in the court.
In the 2002 Gujarat riots, Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five-month pregnant when she was gang-raped while she tried to flee. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members who were killed.
The 11 convicts on August 15 walked out of the Godhra sub-jail, after spending more than 15 years in prison, after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy.
The apex court had issued a notice to the state on a plea by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra. This was a second petition that had challenged the convicts’ remission. The first one was by CPI (M) MP Subhasini Ali, Revati Laul and Professor Roop Rekha on August 25. The apex court had sought responses from the Centre and the Gujarat government on the first petition.
During the hearing on Friday, advocate Rishi Malhotra, appearing for one of the 11 convicts, said that though the court had allowed them to be made parties, the petitioners had done so only on Sunday. He said they were yet to get notices. Subsequently, the top court issued notice to Malhotra.
The top court also asked Malhotra if he would like to appear for other convicts too, and the counsel responded that he would take instructions of that.
The top court bench also asked when the line and cause of action was the same, why multiple pleas were filed in the case.
To this, one of the advocates, appearing for the petitioners in a separate plea filed in the matter, said the prayers in their petition are slightly different from the other.
On January 21, 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai had sentenced to life imprisonment for the gang-rape of Bano and murder of her family members. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.