The Gujarat government’s choice to commute the sentences of 11 inmates who had gang raped Bilkis Bano and killed her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots has been contested in a plea filed with the Supreme Court.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal and Advocate Aparna Bhat presented the petition before a bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana, Justices Hima Kohli and CT Ravikumar with a plea to hear the case the following day.
The CJI said, “Let us see the papers,” but he didn’t follow any sort of listed order.
Subhasini Ali, a leader of the CPI(M), Revati Laul, an independent journalist and filmmaker, and Roop Rekh Varma, a former philosophy professor and activist, submitted the petition.
According to reports, Gujarat Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Raj Kumar stated that the prisoners were freed because they had served “14 years” in prison as well as other considerations including “age, nature of the crime, behaviour in prison, and so on.”
Bano was gang raped during the riots of 2002, and her three-year-old daughter was one among the twelve persons who were murdered by a mob in the Gujarati district of Dahod’s Limkheda taluka.
After Bano contacted the National Human Rights Commission, the Supreme Court mandated that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigate the situation.
The highest court ordered that the trial be moved from Godhra in Gujarat to Maharashtra in 2004 after Bano reported that the accused had threatened to kill her.
A Special CBI Court found thirteen defendants guilty in January 2008, of whom eleven received life sentences for the charges of gang rape and murder.
The conviction verdict was upheld by the Bombay High Court in May 2017.
The State of Gujarat was also ordered by the Supreme Court to pay Bano 50 lakh in compensation in 2019.
She had also been ordered by the State to get a job with the government and housing by a bench consisting of Justices Deepak Gupta, Sanjiv Khanna, and then-Chairman of the Supreme Court of India Ranjan Gogoi.