Indian SC seeks Gujarat govt’s response on pleas against release of 11 convicts

New Delhi, September 09 (KMS): The Indian Supreme Court has granted two weeks time to the government of Gujarat to file a response on pleas challenging the release of 11 men convicted for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of her family members during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the state.

A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and B V Nagarathna directed the Gujarat government to file all records, which formed the basis for granting remission to all the convicts in the case. It asked the state government to file its response within 2 weeks and also asked advocate Rishi Malhotra, representing some of the convicts, to file a response, Indian media reported.

The top courts order said it also directed the state government to place all relevant documents, including the remission order, on record, and fixed the matter for further hearing after three weeks.

On August 25, the Supreme Court sought a response from the Gujarat government on a plea challenging the release of 11 convicts, then clarifying that it did not grant permission for remission to the convicts, and instead it asked the government to consider.

The eleven convicts of life imprisonment were released from Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy.

In January 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai had sentenced the convicts to life imprisonment for gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of her seven family members. The Bombay High Court upheld their conviction.

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped during the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom.

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