The Supreme Court on Thursday told the Gujarat government that state governments should not be selective in granting remission to convicts and that every prisoner should be given an opportunity to reform and rejoin society, which led to the premature release of all 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. Defended his decision to release. Gang rape case during 2002 riots.

The apex court’s observation came in response to the submission of Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the Gujarat government, that the law says even hardened criminals should be given a chance to reform themselves.

The law officer said the crime committed by the 11 convicts was “heinous” but did not fall in the category of rarest of the rare.

“Therefore, they are entitled to a chance to reform. The person may have committed a crime…something may have gone wrong at a particular moment. Later on, he may always realize the consequences.”

“This can be determined to a large extent from their conduct in prison, when released on parole or furlough. All this shows that they have realized that what they have done is wrong. The law is not that every Someone should be punished forever. Should be given a chance to reform.” said Raju.

Responding to the submission, a bench of Justice BV Nagaratna and Justice Ujjwal Bhuiyan sought to know how far the law was being applied to other inmates in the jail.

“Why are our prisons overcrowded? Why is the policy of immunity being applied selectively?

“Not only a few prisoners, but every prisoner should be given an opportunity to reform and reintegrate. But where the remission policy is being implemented where the convicts have completed 14 years of sentence? Is it being implemented in all cases?” the bench asked Raju.

The ASG replied that all states have to answer this question and the exemption policy varies from state to state.

Commenting on the exemption policy of the States, the bench said that the question is whether the policy of premature release is being applied uniformly in all cases in respect of persons who have completed 14 years and for are eligible.

“On the other hand, we have cases like Rudul Shah. Even though he was acquitted, he remained in jail. Extreme cases, both on this side and that side,” the bench said.

Rudul Shah was arrested in 1953 for the murder of his wife and remained in jail for several years, despite being acquitted by a sessions court on June 3, 1968. He was finally released in 1982.

The ASG said that the opinion given by the CBI on remitting the sentence of 11 convicts shows that there was no application of mind in it.

The CBI had said that the offense committed was “heinous, grave and grave” and hence the convicts “cannot be given premature release and no leniency can be shown to them”.

Raju said, “They only state the facts. Nothing has been mentioned except that the crime is heinous. The officer sitting in Mumbai has no knowledge of the ground reality. The opinion of the local Superintendent of Police in this matter is more useful than that of the CBI officer.” Is.”

“There is no application of mind in the opinion of the CBI. They have reiterated the facts and stated that it is a heinous offence. What is the purpose of the pardon? Would having committed a heinous offense deprive you of the benefit of it (exemption) Are?” Raju said.

The hearing in the case will resume on August 24.

In a previous hearing, TMC MP Mahua Moitra had told the apex court that the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots was a “crime against humanity”, and accused the Gujarat government of It failed to comply with its constitutional mandate to protect the rights of women and children by granting immunity to 11 convicts in the “horrific” case.

Apart from the petition filed by Bilkis Bano challenging the exemption granted to her, several other PILs including CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, independent journalist Revati Laul and Roop Rekha Verma, former Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow University have challenged the exemption. Moitra has also filed a PIL against the exemption.

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the communal riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident. Their three-year-old daughter was one of the seven family members killed in the riots.

(Only the headline and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content was auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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