SC judge recuses from hearing Bilkis Bano case, again

File Photo of Supreme Court
File Photo of Supreme Court

New Delhi, Jan 4: Supreme Court judge Justice Bela M Trivedi on Wednesday recused herself from hearing a clutch of petitions against the release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.

A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Trivedi took up the petitions filed by CPI-M leader Subhashini Ali, journalist Revati Laul, Lucknow University’s former Vice Chancellor Roop Rekha Verma, and Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, challenging the release of the convicts.

Advocate Rishi Malhotra, representing one of the convicts, vehemently argued that petitioners must prove their locus standi in the case. Advocates Vrinda Grover and Aparna Bhat, representing the petitioners, opposed Malhotra’s contention, saying that the stage of maintainability was crossed after the court issued notice on their plea.

Bilkis Bano was gang-raped and multiple members of her family were killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Advocate Shobha Gupta, representing Bilkis Bano, contended that earlier Justice Trivedi had recused herself from hearing her client’s plea against the release of convicts.

At this juncture, the judges on the bench had a brief conversation. Justice Rastogi said that if Justice Trivedi had already recused from hearing the victim’s plea, she would like to recuse from hearing this matter also.

He further added that Bilkis Bano’s plea will be taken up as the lead matter and the rest of the writ petitions would be tagged along with it when the bench sits with a different combination of judges.

Senior advocates Siddharth Luthra and Malhotra requested the bench that rejoinder affidavits being filed by the petitioners should be served upon them. Justice Rastogi said everything should be shared among the parties.

Bhat submitted that pleadings in the matter are over, and the court may take up the petitions for hearing in February. The bench agreed to list the petitions in February.

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