Supreme Court: In a batch of writ petitions filed against the decision of Gujarat Government, wherein 11 convicts were prematurely released for offences of multiple murders and gangrape of Bilkis Bano, the Division Bench of K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna, J.J., said that there have been attempts by the convicts to avoid the Bench from hearing the case.
The Gujarat Government had released the 11 convicts on 15-08-2023 as the convicts had completed 14 years of their sentence in prison and keeping in sight their good behavior. Aggrieved by the order of the Gujarat Government, Bilkis Bano filed a petition against the premature release of the convicts. During the 2002 communal riots in Godhra, the convicts had murdered 14 family members of then pregnant Bilkis Bano and had gangraped her.
In the previous order of the Court, the Court had enquired the Gujarat Government about the reasons behind its decision to allow premature release of the 11 convicts and directed them to release the documents of the remission.
The Court noted that a pattern was developed to avoid the Bench from hearing the case, as the convicts had, one way or other, claimed that they were not served the notice. The Court said that it was obvious that the convicts did not want the Bench to hear the case. Further, the Court said that even after the said matter will be heard after a week, someone will say that they have not been served the notice and will seek more time to file the reply.
The Court also noted that the Gujarat Government and Centre did not claim ‘privilege’ and had agreed to produce the remission records of the 11 convicts, when directed to do so.
The Court directed the petitioners to take steps to complete the service of the notice on the unserved respondents by including the dasti service through the concerned local police station.
[Bilkis Yakub Rasool v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 579, Order dated 02-05-2023] ]
With Press inputs