Bilkis Bano gang rape case: Supreme Court rejects convicts' pleas; gives them 3 days to surrender
The Supreme Court rejected the applications filed by eleven convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case, seeking additional time to surrender. The court dismissed their requests, stating that there were no valid reasons cited for an extension.
The Supreme Court has dismissed the applications filed by eleven convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case, denying their request for additional time to surrender before the relevant jail authorities. Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan of the Supreme Court stated that the convicts failed to provide valid reasons for extending the deadline.
The convicts, including Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radheshyam Bhagwandas Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt, and Ramesh Chandana, are now required to surrender by January 22, as per the Supreme Court's initial judgment on January 8.
In that judgment, the Supreme Court had directed the convicts to surrender within two weeks. However, they sought an extension of four to six weeks, citing reasons such as domestic responsibilities, winter crop harvesting, old age, and ill health.
The convicts had earlier been granted remission by the Gujarat government in accordance with a May 2022 judgment, which stated that remission applications should align with the policies of the State where the crime occurred. This decision was contested by various petitioners, including Bilkis Bano, leading to the Supreme Court's ruling on January 8, overturning the remission granted by the Gujarat government. The court declared that the Gujarat government lacked the authority to apply its remission policy to these eleven convicts.
The freeing of the convicts sparked controversy, particularly due to the harrowing experiences of Bilkis Bano, who suffered severe atrocities during the post-Godhra riots in 2002. Bano's ordeal included an alleged gang rape and the tragic loss of 14 family members, including her three-year-old daughter, while she was five months pregnant.
To investigate the legitimacy of the convicts' release, the Supreme Court had, in October of the previous year, called for original records from the Centre and the Gujarat government regarding the remission granted to these individuals.
Several petitions were filed challenging the release and the government's decision regarding the accused individuals involved in the serious offences in Gujarat. The petitioners included the National Federation of Indian Women, represented by Annie Raja, Subhashini Ali from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), journalist Revati Laul, social activist and professor Roop Rekha Verma, and former TMC MP Mahua Moitra.