Release of Bilkis Bano rapists challenged in Supreme Court, CJI plans to register it

Subhashini Ali, Revathi Laul and Roop Rekha Verma filed a Public Interest Complaint (PIL) in the Supreme Court on Tuesday to revoke the surrender of convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.

A women’s rights activist has filed a Public Interest Complaint (PIL) in the Supreme Court against the early release of convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. (File photo)

STRONG POINTS

  • Women’s rights activists file a PIL against the surrender of convicts in the Bilkis Bano case
  • Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal and Attorney Aparna Bhat also mentioned the case before a CJI-led bench.
  • 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the case were released on August 15

Women’s rights activists filed a Public Interest Complaint (PIL) in the Supreme Court on Tuesday to revoke the surrender of the 11 convicts involved in the Bilkis Bano case. The PIL said the convicts should not be released as it is a case involving gang rape and murder.

Subhashini Ali, Revathi Laul and Roop Rekha Verma filed the PIL in the High Court seeking orders revoking the surrender of the convicts.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal and Advocate Aparna Bhat also mentioned the case before a bench headed by NV Ramana, the Chief Justice of India. Sibal said the handover was disputed, adding that “14 people were killed and a pregnant woman was raped.”

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the plea.

Previously, more than 6,000 people, including activists and historians, urged the Supreme Court to revoke the early release of convicts in the case.

READ ALSO | My case is about the shameful failure of the state to protect its people, says Bilkis Bano

WHAT IS THE CASE?

Bilkis was 20 and several months pregnant when she was brutalized by men she had apparently known for years. She referred to one of them as “Chacha” (uncle) and the others as brothers. She was gang-raped and left nearly lifeless. She saw her family members being killed. Her three-year-old daughter was also murdered on March 3, 2002.

On regaining consciousness, Bilkis borrowed clothes from a tribal woman and went to Limkheda police station in Dahod district to file a complaint. The police chief suppressed facts and wrote a truncated version of the complaint.

It was only the beginning of his ordeal in search of justice. She received death threats, prompting the Supreme Court in 2004 to move the trial from Gujarat to Mumbai.

In January 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai convicted 11 of the 20 defendants on conspiracy to rape a pregnant woman, murder, unlawful assembly and other charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. The police chief was found guilty of “making incorrect records” to save the accused. Seven of the 20 defendants were acquitted due to lack of evidence. One person died during the trial.

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