Bilkis Bano Accused Files Counter Affidavit in SC Against Plea Opposing Remission

Bilkis Bano Case

Priyanka Singh

Published on: September 25, 2022 at 23:23 IST

On 25th August, a bench comprising the then Chief Justice of India N. V. Ramana and Justices Vikram Nath and Ajay Rastogi heard a petition that was filed by CPI(M) MP Subhasini Ali, Journalist Revati Laul and Professor Roop Rekha Verma, and issued directions to the State of Gujarat the impleadment of the accused persons.

This comes following petitions filed challenging the Government of Gujarat’s order to allow premature release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape & murder case, out of which one accused person has filed a counter affidavit.

The counter affidavit challenges the maintainability of the petitions filed by journalists, activists and politicians, claiming them to be “third party” to the case, and that, the petitioners have personal aspirations through the filing of the petitions.

The accused contends that such involvement from third parties who have no locus standi have tendency to push the criminal matter in an imbalanced situation.

The contention relies on the judgment in the case of Simranjit Singh Mann vs. Union of India, where it has been argued that persons not parties to the case and who have no enforcement of their fundamental rights cannot file writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution.

Reliance is placed on the judgment passed by the Supreme Court of 13 May, 2022, which decided that, the relevant government to grant remission would be the Government of Gujarat, directing it to consider the plea within a term of two months on the basis of its 1992 remission policy.

The affidavit apprises that the aforementioned judgment clarifies the remission to be considered in terms of the policy which existed at the time of conviction by the Trial Court. It avers that to challenge the judgment of the top court, there must be petition filed under Review Petition rather than a writ.

“Not a single ground has been alleged in the said petition as to what fundamental wrong is committed in the said remission order”, read the counter affidavit while calling the writ petition “speculative”.

The Case of Bilkis Bano –

The crime occurred during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, when a five-month pregnant Bilkis Bano, 19, was in process of fleeing her village in the Dahod District with her family members.

On reaching the outskirts of the Chhaparwad village, five women, including Bilkis and her mother were raped and 14 of her family members were murdered, which also included her three-year-old daughter.

The investigation of the case was handed to the CBI, seeing the political sensitivity of the issue as per the Supreme Court, after which, the trial was shifted to Maharashtra, where the accused were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 by a session court in Mumbai.

After 15 years of jail, one of the accused persons approached the Apex Court pleading his premature release, post rejection by the Gujarat High Court, stating the appropriate government of power to do so is Maharashtra and not Gujarat.

The 11 accused were released from imprisonment on 15th August after a decision taken by the Gujarat Government, granting them a remission post completion of 14 years of sentence.

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