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Bilkis Bano Case: Heres What Supreme Court Said On Surrender Of All Convicts

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New Delhi: In a significant development, the Supreme Court, led by Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan, unequivocally rejected the applications filed by the convicts involved in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case on Friday. The convicts had sought an extension of time to surrender before jail authorities, citing various reasons.

No Merit In Reasons Cited By Convicts: SC 

The apex court, in its dismissal, asserted that the reasons presented by the convicts for seeking a postponement of surrender and a delay in reporting back to jail have no merit. Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan emphasized that these reasons do not justify non-compliance with the court’s directions. All miscellaneous applications have been summarily dismissed, and any pending applications stand disposed of.

Convicts Must Surrender By January 21: SC

The court has set a firm deadline for the 11 convicts involved in the Bilkis Bano case, requiring them to surrender before jail authorities by January 21. This decision comes after the convicts approached the apex court, citing health issues, caretaking responsibilities for aged parents, impending crop harvest, and other concerns.

Background: Remission, Release, And Supreme Court Intervention

Originally sentenced to life imprisonment for their involvement in the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots, the convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government. However, in a landmark decision on January 8, the Supreme Court struck down the remission order, declaring it invalid.

The apex court held that the Gujarat government lacked the authority to pass remission orders and clarified that only the Maharashtra government was competent to do so. The court also expressed strong disapproval, stating that the previous judgment directing the Gujarat government to consider remission was obtained through fraud and the suppression of material facts.

SC’s Rebuke: Convicts Approached With ‘Unclean Hands’

The bench remarked that the convicts had not approached the court with “clean hands,” emphasizing that the proceedings were tainted by the “suppression of facts,” constituting a fraud on the court. The judgment came in response to a petition filed by Bilkis Bano and others challenging the premature release of the 11 convicts.

Guj Govt’s Defence Of Remission To Convicts

Earlier, the Gujarat government defended the remission, arguing that the convicts had completed a 14-year sentence, and their behavior was deemed good. The Bilkis Bano case dates back to March 2002 during the post-Godhra riots when she was allegedly gang-raped, left to die with her family, and five months pregnant. The recent Supreme Court decision underscores the commitment to justice and adherence to legal processes in high-profile cases.

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