The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned convicts in the Bilkis Bano case for depositing fine without awaiting its decision on their interlocutory application, particularly when the final hearing is underway before it in the batch of pleas filed against the Gujarat government’s decision allowing their early release in the case of her gang rape and murder of her family members.
During the hearing, a bench of Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan was apprised by senior advocate Sidharth Luthra that convicts have approached the trial court in Mumbai and have deposited the fine imposed upon them.
He contended that though non-deposition of fine does not affect the decision on remission, he had advised his clients to deposit the fine to “reduce the controversy”.
However, the bench questioned the deposition of the fine without awaiting the outcome of their application filed before the court.
“You seek permission and then you deposit without getting permission?” it asked.
The top court noted that the fine was not paid when the Gujarat government allowed release of these 11 convicts under its remission policy on August 15 last year.
Luthra told the apex court that the sessions court in Mumbai accepted the fine in normal against their apprehensions. He repeatedly argued that deposition or non-deposition of fine does not have any “legal consequence” in extending remission to a convict.
He reiterated that applications seeking early release were considered by the Gujarat government pursuant to an earlier order of the top court and remission order having an essence of judicial order cannot be challenged by way of filing a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution.
Earlier, it was pointed out before the Supreme Court that the convicts did not pay the fines imposed on them and non-payment of fine renders remission order illegal.
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