The Supreme Court notified the Gujarat government and the Union government on 18th April 2023 to further review and prepare the necessary files on the judgment that was granted to the 11 life prisoners in the Bilkis Bano case.
The Board of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna were discussing the bundle of petitions that challenged the judgment regarding the premature release of 11 prisoners by the Gujarat government who were sentenced for life imprisonment for numerous murders and the gangrape during the communal riot in Gujarat in the year 2002.
Previous year, on Independence Day, the prisoners’ sentence was suspended and they were allowed to walk freely after their remission application was approved by the Gujarat state government.
Few months ago, while publishing the notice on Bilkis Bano’s petition, the board which was directed by Justice Joseph informed the Union and the Gujarat state government to review the judgment which was given to 11 convicts and also to be ready with the necessary files regarding the verdict.
Both the central and the state government evidently presented their unwillingness to deliver the files on the suspension granted to the convicts. The crucial question that was asked by Justice Joseph was, while granting the remission, did the state government ask the right questions and whether did they use their minds while approving the remission , he also questioned them that on what basis did the state government consider the remission for those 11 convicts ,what were the materials that was used to take this judgment.
The respondents were given time until May 1 to file their contradictory statement. The lawyers who were speaking for the convicts asked for an extra time and they requested to postpone the hearing. But the petitioners didn’t accept their request, they strongly opposed it and the Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi said that there will be delay in the proceedings if someone keeps on asking for additional time.
Justice Nagarathna said, on every hearing ,one accused will seek the adjournment and after four weeks some other accused will come and the same thing will go on, he said that they are well aware about this strategy.
As the proceedings continued, the board members examined all the necessary documents and they observed that the culprits were granted parole for 3 years. The judge questioned them on what basis was the parole granted for these many days and he also said that these convicts cannot be compared to the simple murders for granting the remission.
The Gujarat state government gave a statement to the Supreme Court that the decisions were made by considering the approval from the central government, which was made on the basis of the good behavior of the prisoners and on the completion of 14 years of imprisonment.
The Board of judges and the CBI objected to the judgment which was given by the state government stating that numerous offenses were committed by the convicts.