The Supreme Court on Monday said that it would consider early “listing by circulation” a plea seeking review of its earlier order by which it had asked the Gujarat government to consider the plea for remission of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and Dipankar Datta took note of the submissions of lawyer Shobha Gupta that the review plea is yet to be listed.
“It will come up by circulation. I will have it posted early. There is a date, I will check,” the CJI told the lawyer who said the tentative date was shown as December 5.
As per procedures, review pleas against apex court judgements are decided in chambers by circulation by the judges who were part of the judgement under review.
Besides the review, Bano, who was gang-raped and seven members of her family killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots, has filed a separate petition challenging the remission of sentence of 11 convicts in the case by the state government, saying their premature release has “shaken the conscience of society”.
The plea is listed for hearing on December 13 before a bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trived.
The gang-rape survivor has sought a review of the apex court’s May 13, 2022 order on a plea by a convict.
The top court had asked the state government to consider the plea for premature release of the convicts in terms of its policy of July 9, 1992 about deciding a remission petition within a period of two months.
All the 11 convicts were granted remission by the state government and released on August 15 this year.
The review plea said Bilkis Bano was not made a party to the petition by a convict who along with others was released under the state’s remission policy which is not in force.
“In view of the development that the policy dated July 9, 1992 stood cancelled vide circular dated May 08, 2003 of State of Gujarat, it was necessary to be examined whether still the policy dated 09.07.1992 would be the relevant policy for remission application of the convicts to be considered, if at all the State of Gujarat is the appropriate Government under section 432 CrPC,” the review plea said.
The top court is already seized of PILs filed by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, Revati Laul, an independent journalist, and Roop Rekha Verma, who is a former vice chancellor of the Lucknow University, and TMC MP Mahua Moitra against the release of the convicts.
Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed.
The investigation in the case was handed over to the CBI and the trial was transferred to a Maharashtra court by the Supreme Court.
A special CBI court in Mumbai had on January 21, 2008 sentenced the 11 to life imprisonment on charges of gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of seven members of her family.
Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.
The 11 men convicted in the case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. They had completed more than 15 years in jail.