SC Questions Whether Convicts Have a Fundamental Right to Request Pardon in the Bilkis Bano Case

<p>The premature release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case and the killing of seven of her family members during the Gujarat riots in 2002 prompted the Supreme Court to inquire on Wednesday whether prisoners had a basic right to request remission.<img decoding=”async” class=”alignnone wp-image-192151″ src=”https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/theindiaprint.com-with-an-unbeaten-144-for-northamptonshire-against-table-toppers-surrey-karun-nair-.jpg” alt=”theindiaprint.com with an unbeaten 144 for northamptonshire against table toppers surrey karun nair” width=”1079″ height=”604″ srcset=”https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/theindiaprint.com-with-an-unbeaten-144-for-northamptonshire-against-table-toppers-surrey-karun-nair-.jpg 300w, https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/theindiaprint.com-with-an-unbeaten-144-for-northamptonshire-against-table-toppers-surrey-karun-nair–150×84.jpg 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 1079px) 100vw, 1079px” title=”SC Questions Whether Convicts Have a Fundamental Right to Request Pardon in the Bilkis Bano Case 9″></p>
<p>Is the ability of criminals to seek pardon a basic right? A lawyer representing one of the 11 convicted individuals was questioned by a bench of justices led by BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan, “Will a petition lie under Article 32 (which deals with citizens’ right to move the SC directly if their fundamental rights are violated) of the Constitution?”</p>
<p>The attorney said, “No, that is not a basic right of the inmates.</p>
<p>According to him, neither the victim nor any other party has the right to bring a case immediately before the Supreme Court under Article 32 since none of their basic rights has been violated. The victims have further legal rights to contest the remission’s award, according to the attorney.</p>
<p>In accordance with Article 226 of the Constitution, which states that the high court “shall have powers to issue orders or writs, including habeas corpus…, to any person or any government for the enforcement of fundamental rights and for other purposes,” another senior lawyer who is representing a convict claimed that the competent authority’s decision to grant remission is subject to judicial review before high courts.</p>
<p>The bench questioned, “Who is to say that remission has been granted after following the rules?”</p>
<p>In response, the attorney said that under Article 32, remission must be contested in the high court rather than immediately before the top court if this is even a matter. The bench raised an objection during the hearing to a lawyer’s argument that a conviction—”right or wrong”—by a court, including the Supreme Court, and the imposition of a sentence before remission were not subject to appeal.</p>
<p>What do you think—is this good or bad? The bench informed the attorney, who claimed he was just trying to emphasize that the defendants had already spent more than 15 years of their sentences, that he had been appropriately convicted.</p>
<p>“Since the criminals have already completed their sentences, the balance of convenience leans further in their favor. The concept of reformation serves as the foundation for our criminal law system. At this point, the behavior of the offenders in jail should be considered rather than the nature and seriousness of the crime, the attorney stated.</p>
<p>Following the conclusion of the arguments on behalf of the defendants on Wednesday, the court will hear Bilkis Bano’s attorney and others’ reply arguments on October 4 at 2:00 PM. The court has previously noted that certain prisoners are “more privileged” and have the advantage of remission.</p>
<p>The argument put forth by Bilkis Bano and others that he cannot be granted the relief due to the heinous nature of the offense cannot be invoked now that the executive has made a decision, according to senior attorney Siddharth Luthra, who was representing convict Ramesh Rupabhai Chandana.</p>
<p>“The other side only mentions vengeance or deterrence. That, in my view, is not a valid argument at this time. It is not appropriate to approach the award of remission with a punitive mindset. This is not in accordance with Indian legal policy, he had remarked.</p>
<p>According to Luthra, a Mumbai sessions court used its legal judgment to evaluate the state’s actions, and the convicted were also given life sentences “simpliciter” (totally and unconditionally).</p>
<p>Prior to this, the top court had ruled on August 17 that state governments could not be selective in giving remission to prisoners and that every prisoner should be given the chance to change and reintegrate with society.</p>
<p>The gangrape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of seven of her family members were described as “crimes against humanity” by TMC MP Mahua Moitra, who also charged the Gujarat government with failing to carry out its constitutional duty to protect the rights of women and children by pardoning the 11 defendants in the “horrendous” case.</p>
<p>In addition to the petition filed by Bilkis Bano challenging the remission given to them, a number of other PILs have also contested the remission, including those filed by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, independent journalist Revati Laul, and former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma. Additionally, Moitra has filed a PIL against the remission.</p>
<p>When Bilkis Bano was gangraped while trying to escape the horrific communal rioting that started following the Godhra train-burning event, she was 21 years old and five months pregnant. One of the seven family members slain in the rioting was her 3-year-old daughter.</p>

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