SC to hear on Aug 9 the locus standi of PIL petitioners in Bilkis case


New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Tuesday it will hear arguments on August 9 on the locus standi of multiple people who have filed PILs in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case and the murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Besides the petition filed by Bilkis Bano, several other PILs including one by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, independent journalist Revati Laul and former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma have challenged the remission. Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra has also filed a PIL against the remission.

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for one of the convicts, told a bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan that once the victim individual is in court, others may not have a locus standi (entitlement to bring a lawsuit in court) to intervene in the matter of this nature.

“We have heard counsel for the parties. The other writ petitions are in nature of PILs. A preliminary objection has been raised with respect to the maintainability of the PILs. In order to hear the preliminary objection, list the matter tomorrow at 3 pm,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing in one of the PILs, submitted she will not address the court on the facts of the case and argue purely on the proposition of law.

The convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case and murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots chased her with a “blood thirsty approach” to hunt Muslims and kill them, the apex court was told on Monday, as it commenced the final hearing on a batch of pleas challenging the remission granted last year to all the 11 convicts in the case.

The top court had on April 18 questioned the Gujarat government over the remission granted to the 11 convicts, saying the gravity of the offence should have been considered before showing leniency, and wondered if there was any application of mind. All of them had walked free on August 15, 2022.

Asking for reasons for the premature release of the convicts, the top court had also questioned frequent parole granted to them during their incarceration.

“It (remission) is a kind of grace, which should be proportional to the crime,” it had said.

Terming Bilkis Bano’s gang-rape and the murder of her family members a “horrendous” act, the apex court had on March 27 asked the Gujarat government whether uniform standards, as followed in other murder cases, were applied while granting remission to the convicts.

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

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