‘Reformation is ultimate aim of criminal justice system unless it’s a rarest of rare case’:Convict

New Delhi, Aug 31 (UNI) One of the convicts in the gruesome gang rape case of Bilkis Bano on Thursday told the Supreme Court that ‘reformation is the ultimate aim of criminal justice system unless it’s a rarest of the rare case’.

The Apex Court’s two-judge bench, headed by Justice B V Nagarathna and also comprising Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, was hearing a batch of pleas, including certain pleas filed by third parties, challenging the decision of the Gujarat government to grant remission to 11 convicts who had gang-raped Bilkis Bano and murdered her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“Reformation is the ultimate aim of criminal justice system unless it’s a rarest of the rare case,” Senior lawyer Siddharth Luthra, for convict Ramesh Rupabhai Chandana, told the Top court bench.

The arguments today was inconclusive, amd would continue on September 14 before the Supreme Court’s same bench of judges.

It is to be noted that four convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case did not deposit the fine imposed on them by the lower court. Despite the non-payment of the fine, they were granted remission by the Gujarat government.

The non-payment of the fine by the convicts was revealed by Luthra.

To this, the Court asked him, did non-deposit have effect on remission? At the time of remission, fine was not paid?

He replied no. But since the argument was raised. But to reduce the controversy, we have deposited now. The fine paid, did not have any legal consequence.

Luthra replied, it was inadvertently not deposited. And now he advised the convict to deposit the fine amount.

The Senior lawyer also made it clear that reformation is ultimate aim of criminal justice system, except for those rarest of rare cases where deterrence becomes the central objective.

“Aim of criminal justice administration is reformation. These are not cases beyond remit of reformation,” Luthra said.

He also said that the unblemished behaviour is evinced by lack of criminal activity demonstrating possibility of reformation.

Justice Nagrathna, after going through the file, said there were some receipts submitted to the apex court. It was then revealed that the convicts have recently deposited the money and at the same time moved an application on August 29, 2023 seeking permission to deposit the fine amount.

The convicts Rajubhai, Babulal Soni, Mitesh Chimanlal Bhatt, Pradip Ramanlal Modhiya and Ramesh Rupabhai Chandana were fined Rs.34,000 in addition to the life sentence awarded to them by the lower court and confirmed by the higher courts.

The Gujarat government had granted remission to the 11 convicts based on a May 2022 judgment of the apex court.

The Gujarat government awarded remission to all her 11 convicts and freed them on on August 15, last year. Bano has filed a writ petition in the Top Court challenging the remissions granted to 11 convicts.

The 11 convicts who were set free are Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana.

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