In response to a petition challenging the release of 11 convicts in the 2002 case of Bilkis Bano's gangrape and murder of her family members, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked whether there was application of mind while considering remission and served notice to the Centre and the Gujarat government.
The petitioners were instructed to name all 11 of the individuals who had been granted remission as parties in the case by a panel led by Chief Justice N V Ramana.
The matter was submitted for hearing two weeks later by the panel, which also included Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath.
When Bilkis Bano was gangraped in 2002 while trying to escape the riots that started after the Godhra train burning, she was 21 years old and five months pregnant. One of the kids was her three-year-old daughter.
The Gujarat government approved the release of the 11 men under its remission policy, and they left the Godhra sub-jail on August 15. They'd spent more than 15 years behind bars.
CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, writer Revathy Laul, and activist Roop Rekha Rani have all filed a petition with the Supreme Court.
The court stated that the question is whether there was application of mind and whether it was within the bounds of law while debating the topic of remission in such heinous circumstances, which has generated a great deal of debate.
"Day in and day out, those who are convicted and complete their sentence are eligible for remission." " What is the exception?" the bench observed. "Is that sufficient to say they are not entitled to remission?" it asked.
Senior attorney Kapil Sibal, who was representing the petitioners at the hearing, related to the case's circumstances and stated that multiple people—including minors—were killed and a pregnant woman was raped.
"The only question is, in these circumstances, what is the judicial review of the court in the context of remission," he said.
The bench noted that the accused had been punished and found guilty by the court for whatever crime they may have committed.
Sibal stated that the petitioners want the supreme court to review the file and determine whether application of mind occurred.
In May of this year, the Apex Court issued a ruling that the Chief Justice of India referred to. It stated that Gujarat was the "relevant government" qualified to review the request for the early release of a life inmate in a murder case that was moved from a court there to a court in Mumbai in August 2004 for trial.
"I have seen somewhere that as if the court has granted permission for release. No," Justice Ramana observed.
On the plea, the bench announced that notice would be given.
According to one of the attorneys present, the petitioners are a "third party" to the criminal prosecution in this case, and those who were given remission were not made parties to the plea agreement.
"Why have you not included him as a party respondent?" the bench asked Sibal.
The petitioners would include them in the case, said Sibal.