The Gujarat government was questioned by the Supreme Court on Tuesday regarding its decision to grant premature release to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, reported LiveLaw.in.
Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna stated that when considering remission for such heinous crimes that affect society as a whole, the power must be exercised in the public interest.
State should apply its mind, says court
The court pointed out that even though the Central government has approved the state's decision, it does not absolve the state from applying its mind in such cases.
"The question is whether govt applied its mind, what material formed the basis of its decision, etc...(Judicial) order requiring convicts to be in jail for rest of their natural life...(they were) released by executive order...Today it is this lady (Bilkis). Tomorrow, it can be you or me.There must be objective standards...If you don't give us reason, we will draw our own conclusions," Justice Joseph observed.
Justice Joseph remarked that the government's decision must be based on objective standards, and if the reasons are not provided, the court will draw its conclusions.
The bench was hearing pleas challenging the convicts' premature release, including one filed by the victim herself.
Next hearing on May 2
The court listed the matter on May 2 and asked the respondents to produce the files and file their counter-affidavits by May 1.
Justice Joseph reminded the respondents of Venkata Reddy's case, where the remission was set aside even though the power existed because of high yardstick and reasons not given.
The government is also proposing to file a review petition against the court's order dated March 27.
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