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Bilkis Bano case: SC rejects convicts’ plea for more time to surrender

News Desk TTP

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the plea of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder case, who had sought more time to surrender before the jail authorities. The court said that the reasons given by the convicts, such as family responsibilities, health issues, and harvesting season, were not sufficient to postpone their surrender.

The convicts were ordered to surrender by January 20, as per the apex court’s judgment on January 8, which quashed the remission of their life sentence by the Gujarat government in August 2022. The court had held that the Gujarat government had no jurisdiction to grant remission to the convicts, who were serving their sentence in Maharashtra, and had also usurped the power of the Maharashtra government by not filing a review petition against the May 2022 verdict.

The convicts were among the 12 men who were convicted for raping Bilkis Bano, a pregnant woman, and killing 14 members of her family, including a two-month-old infant, during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. They had served 14 years of their sentence at the time of their premature release.

The court observed that the convicts had already been given two weeks to put their affairs in order, and that their plea for extension was an attempt to delay the execution of the court’s order. The court also noted that the convicts had not shown any exceptional or extraordinary circumstances that warranted their relief.

The court’s order came after hearing the submissions of the convicts’ lawyers, who had mentioned their applications on Thursday for urgent hearing. The court had reconstituted a bench of Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan to hear the matter on Friday.

The court’s order has been welcomed by Bilkis Bano and her supporters, who have hailed it as a victory of justice and human rights. Bilkis Bano, who is now 40 years old, had fought a long and courageous battle for justice, despite facing threats, intimidation, and harassment from the accused and the authorities.

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