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‘Son’s Marriage, Harvesting Crops’: Why 7 Bilkis Bano Case Convicts Are Seeking More Time to Surrender

The SC quashed the remission granted to the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case. (Image: PTI/File)

The SC quashed the remission granted to the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case. (Image: PTI/File)

The seven convicts moved the Supreme Court, seeking more time to surrender, days after the remission granted to them by the Gujarat government was quashed. The deadline to surrender expires on Jan 21

Failing health, impending surgery, son’s marriage and harvesting ripe crops — here are just some of the reasons cited by seven out of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case before the Supreme Court to seek an extension of their deadline to surrender.

The seven convicts on Thursday moved the top court seeking more time to surrender, days after the remission granted to them by the Gujarat government was quashed. The convicts who have sought relief are Govind Nai, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Ramesh Chandana, Mitesh Bhatt, Jaswant Nai and Radheyshyam Shah.

Senior advocate V Chitambaresh, appearing for some of the convicts, mentioned the matter and sought its urgent listing on Friday (January 19) since the deadline to surrender expires on January 21.

The matter of the extension was mentioned before a bench of Justices BV Nagarathana and Sanjay Karol, which asked the registry to place their applications before Chief Justice DY Chandrachud. “It is stated by the respondents that applications have been filed for an extension of time to surrender and report to jail. Since the bench has to be reconstituted, registry to seek orders from CJI for reconstitution of the bench since time expires on Sunday,” the bench stated.

Here are the reasons given by the seven convicts:

Govind Nai: In his plea, Govind Nai said he is an old man suffering from asthma and is in “really poor health”. He said he was recently operated upon and had to undergo an angiography and was scheduled to have another for the treatment of haemorrhoids. He also cited his bedridden 88-year-old father’s ill health to seek relief.

Ramesh Chandana: In his plea seeking more time to surrender, Chandana said he was looking after his crops, which were ready for harvest. He said he is the only male member in the family and has to take care of the crops. “Further, applicant’s young son is of marriageable age and the applicant bears the responsibility to look after this affair and with kind indulgence of this Honourable Court may even complete this affair,” he stated in his plea.

Pradeep Mordhiya: Mordhiya submitted that he requires regular consultation with doctors after he underwent a lung surgery.

Mitesh Bhatt: Bhatt said his winter crops are ready for harvest and he needs to complete the task before surrendering.

Bipin Chandra Joshi: Joshi has cited a recent leg surgery to seek relief.

Jaswant Nai: Jaswant Nai is seeking six weeks to surrender, saying he has to complete harvest of winter crops.

Radheshyam Shah: He is the seventh convict to move the top court.

What is the Bilkis Bano gangrape case?

The 11 men were convicted of gangraping Bilkis Bano and massacring seven members of her family during the 2002 communal riots. While quashing the remission granted to them, the SC slammed the state for being “complicit” with an accused and abusing its discretion. It ordered the convicts, who were released prematurely on Independence Day in 2022, to go back to jail within two weeks.

Excoriating the Gujarat government for remitting their sentences, the court had said it “usurped” the power of the Maharashtra government to grant remission. The case was transferred from a Gujarat court to a court in Mumbai, and the SC said the Maharashtra government was vested with the power to grant remission.

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months’ pregnant when she was gangraped while trying to escape the horror of the communal riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident in February 2002. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed.

(With PTI inputs)

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