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Bilkis Bano case: Review petition filed, seeks stay on release of convicts



Bilkis Bano

Bilkis Bano, a victim of the 2022 Gujarat riots, has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court. Bilkis has sought a reconsideration of the court’s May 13 order. Based on this order, the convicts of gang-raping Bilkis and killing her family members were released. The matter has been placed before the Chief Justice on Wednesday. He has assured to consider it and put it before the appropriate bench.

In fact, on May 13, a bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath of the Supreme Court had ruled on the petition of one of the convicts Radheshyam Shah, saying that he was sentenced in 2008. Therefore, the stringent rules framed in Gujarat in 2014 for release will not apply but the 1992 rules will apply. On August 15, the Gujarat government had released 11 people who had served 14 years in jail on the same grounds. The 1992 rules had said that life convicts would be released after 14 years, while the new rules, which came into force in 2014, denied this exemption to convicts of heinous crimes.

The review petition filed by Bilkis Bano said that when the trial went on in Maharashtra, the rules should also apply there and not Gujarat. So far, many leaders and social activists, including Subhashini Ali, Rupali Verma Mahua Moitra, had reached the Supreme Court against the release. They had challenged the Gujarat government’s order. These petitions are being heard. Now Bilkis Bano herself has come to the court and she has demanded the withdrawal of the Supreme Court order on May 13.

During the 2002 Gujarat riots, Bilkis of Randhikpur village in Dahod district eloped with 16 members of her family and hid in the fields of nearby village Chaparwad. On March 3, 2002, more than 20 rioters attacked there. Bilkis, who was 5 months pregnant, was among the other women raped. Not only this, 7 people, including Bilkis’s 3-year-old daughter, were killed.

After receiving a complaint from the accused of pressuring the victim’s side, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Maharashtra. On January 21, 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai sentenced 11 people to life imprisonment. In 2017, the Bombay High Court upheld the sentence.

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