Bilkis Bano case: SC directs publication of notices in local newspaper for convicts not served

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed issuance of notice to Bilkis Bano case convicts, who remained unserved so far, and also directed publication of notices in local newspapers, including in Gujarati and English.

A bench, headed by Justice K.M. Joseph and comprising Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, deferred the hearing till July 11 on a clutch of petitions against the remission granted to 11 convicts in the case of gang rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of her family members during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

The bench directed the issuance of notices to the convicts, who remained unserved, and also directed the publication of notices in local newspapers, including in Gujarati and English, in relation with the convicts who could not be served notices. It further added that the July 11 hearing on the matter should be published in the notices to be carried in the newspapers.

The bench said this process will not allow any more wasting of the court’s time and the hearing in the matter could proceed on the next date of hearing. Justice Joseph will superannuate on June 16 and May 19 would be his last working day, as the apex court will go on summer vacation from May 20 till July 2.

On May 2, the Centre and Gujarat government had told the Supreme Court that they would not claim privilege over the documents in connection with the remission of sentence of convicts in Bilkis Bano case, and agreed to share the documents with the apex court for its perusal.

The 11 men convicted in the case were released on August 15 last year, after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. The convicts had completed 15 years in jail.

A batch of the petitions have been filed against the release of 11 convicts, including the one filed by Bilkis Bano. The other petitions were filed by CPI-M leader Subhashini Ali, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, National Federation of Indian Women, Meeran Chadha Borwankar and others, Asma Shafique Shaikh and others.

The top court had issued notice on all the pleas filed in the matter.

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