by Yatin Arora
This article covers the latest updates in Bilkis Bano’s court case. The Supreme Court of India, under the orders of Chief Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud, will form a special judge to hear the case as it is a matter of national importance.
The Supreme Court will assemble a special bench to hear a number of petitions contesting the early release of 11 defendants in the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and the killing of 14 persons during the Gujarat riots in 2002.
Following an urgent issue being brought to the Chief Justice’s attention during mentioning hours by Advocate Shobha Gupta, who was representing Bilkis Bano, the special bench would be established, the Chief Justice of India, D Y Chandrachud, announced on Wednesday.Chief Justice’sFollowing an urgent issue being brought to the Chief Justice’s attention during mentioning hours by Advocate Shobha Gupta, who was representing Bilkis Bano, the special bench would be established, the Chief Justice of India, D Y Chandrachud, announced on Wednesday.
Gupta informed the panel, which also included Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, that Justice Ajay Rastogi, who was sitting alongside Justice Bela M Trivedi, who had recused himself from hearing the case, was presently assigned to the case. The CJI concurred as Gupta implored the court to form a special bench to hear the case and declared he would schedule its hearing as soon as possible. Justice Trivedi’s withdrawal from the case was unjustified. From 2004 to 2006, she served as the Gujarat government’s delegated law secretary.
Why is the Bilkis Bano Case Judgement significant?
14 persons were killed by a mob in riots on March 3, 2002, in the Limkheda taluka of Gujarat’s Dahod district, including Bilkis, who was gang-raped, and her three-year-old daughter. August 15 of last year saw the liberation of the 11 prisoners. “The en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience of society,” Bilkis had stated in her appeal. She stated that the Supreme Court had previously ruled that en masse remissions are not allowed and that each convict’s case must be individually reviewed before the relief is granted.
“I will have a bench constituted. Will look at it this evening,” the CJI said. Earlier on February 7, the plea was mentioned for urgent hearing by a fresh bench, and the CJI had assured Bano’s lawyer that he would set up one at the earliest. Prior to this, the hearing on Bano’s plea could not be taken up for hearing on January 24 as the judges concerned were hearing a matter related to passive euthanasia as part of a five-judge constitution bench. On that day, the petition was listed for hearing before a bench of justices Rastogi and C T Ravikumar.
“One of the most gruesome crimes this country has ever seen,” she characterised the 2002 incident. She claimed that not only she but also her grown children, family, and society at large—both locally and globally—were shocked by the prisoners’ early release. Bilkis described her experience at the time, claiming that being released too soon caused her to “relive” that “trauma”.
In December 2022, the Supreme Court rejected Bilkis’ request for a review of its May 2022 ruling that the Gujarat government should decide whether to grant one of the 11 convicts’ requests for remission of his life sentence and that the state’s 1992 remission policy would be applicable in this case.