In a recent development, the Supreme Court, led by Justice BV Nagarathna, dismissed the petitions of 11 convicts involved in the Bilkis Bano case.
The convicts had sought additional time before surrendering and returning to prison, but the bench found their pleas to be without merit. The Supreme Court has now mandated that the convicts surrender and go back to jail by Sunday.
This decision comes after the Supreme Court overturned Gujarat’s order, which granted remission to the 11 convicts involved in the 2002 gangrape and murder during the riots. The court emphasized that since the trial took place in Maharashtra, the state of Gujarat lacked jurisdiction to grant remission.
The Bilkis Bano case dates back to January 21, 2008, when a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment. The Bombay High Court later upheld the conviction. In 2022, the convicts were released from the Godhra sub-jail under the Gujarat government’s remission policy, a decision overturned by the Supreme Court last week.
Despite the court’s order to surrender within two weeks, a batch of petitions was filed by 10 convicts, citing reasons such as family responsibilities, care for aged parents, harvesting of winter crops, and health conditions. The apex court, in rejecting the plea, maintained that the cited reasons do not exempt compliance with the January 8 order.
One of the convicts, Govindbhai Nai, sought a four-week extension, stating that he is the sole caregiver for his bedridden parents and responsible for his children’s financial needs. He also disclosed his own health problems, including asthma and recent surgery.
The other 10 convicts in the case are Ramesh Rupabhai Chandana, Mitesh Chimanlal Bhatt, Jaswant Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, and Rajubhai Soni. Notably, there have been reports that nine convicts were “missing” from their homes in Gujarat’s Dahod district two days after the Supreme Court’s surrender order.
The Bilkis Bano gangrape incident occurred in 2002 when Bilkis and her family left their home in Randhikpur, anticipating riots following the Godhra train-burning tragedy.
On March 3, 2002, she was gang-raped, and a mob killed 14 people, including seven of her family, in Dahod’s Limkheda. The trial of the case was subsequently shifted to Mumbai, Maharashtra, where the convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment on January 21, 2008.