Don’t mention again & again, very irritating: SC on submissions seeking urgent listing of Bilkis Bano’s plea

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain submissions seeking early listing of a plea filed by Gujarat Muslim genocide survivor Bilkis Bano challenging the remission of sentence of 11 convicts in her gang rape case.

“The writ (petition) will be listed. Please, do not keep mentioning the same thing again and again. It is very irritating,” said Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud.

CJI’s bench was taking objection to Bilkis Bano’s counsel, Advocate Shobha Gupta, repeatedly seeking the setting up of another bench to hear the case.

The petition filed by Bilkis Bano could not be heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday as one of the judges on the bench, Justice Bela M Trivedi, recused herself. No reason was given for Justice Trivedi’s recusal.

The CJI will now have to set up a fresh bench to hear Bano’s case.

Bilkis Bano had approached the Supreme Court challenging the release of 11 Hindutva men convicted of gang-raping her and killing seven members of her family in the 2002 Gujarat Muslim genocide.

The convicts were freed on August 15, Independence Day, by the Gujarat government under a past remission policy.

The move sparked massive outrage, especially when visuals showed the rapists being garlanded and welcomed like heroes by a Hindutva organisation.

Bilkis Bano had said in her petition that Maharashtra, not Gujarat, should decide on releasing the men.

Bano also filed a review petition challenging the apex court’s May order that permitted the Gujarat government to decide on the remission of the convicts.

The 11 convicts who had been set free are: Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana.

Bilkis Bano, who is now in her forties, was five months pregnant when she was brutally gangraped by Hindutva men in Muslim genocide in 2002 in Gujarat, which saw nearly 2,000 Muslims killed in some of the worst anti-Muslim pogroms India has experienced. Seven members of Bano’s family were also killed in the violence, including her three-year-old daughter whose head was smashed on the ground by the perpetrators.

Bano and two of her children were the only survivors among a group of 17 Muslims.

Bano had said the decision by the Gujarat state government to free her rapists has left her “numb”, “bereft of words” and shaken her faith in justice.