CCG Open Letter to the Hon’ble Chief Justice Of India

27 August 2022

To

The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India

Supreme Court of India, New Delhi

Sir,

We, a group of former members of the All India and Central Services who have come together as the Constitutional Conduct Group, have worked in different capacities with the State and Central governments. We have no affiliation with any political party and are, instead, committed to the values enshrined in the Constitution and the judicial process that is protected by it.

Like the overwhelming majority of people in our country, we are aghast at what happened in Gujarat a few days ago, on the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence. The premature release, by the Government of Gujarat, of 11 men convicted and jailed in the ghastly case of gang rape of the young and pregnant Bilkis Bano and two others and the murder of her family members in the riots that took place in Gujarat in 2002 has outraged the nation.

We write to you because we are deeply distressed by this decision of the Government of Gujarat and because we believe that it is only the Supreme Court which has the prime jurisdiction, and hence the responsibility, to rectify this horrendously wrong decision.

The story of Bilkis Bano is, as you know, a story of immense courage and persistence. A five-month pregnant, then 19-year-old Bilkis, fled, along with her family and others, their village in Dahod district on 28 February 2002, when around 60 Muslim homes were torched; they hid in the fields outside Chhapparwad village where armed men attacked them. Bilkis, her mother and three other women were raped and her three-year old daughter’s head was smashed. Later eight persons were found dead and six were missing. Bilkis, naked and unconscious, an old man, and a three-year-old survived; her own daughter did not. It is a remarkable story of courage that this battered and bruised young woman, hiding from her tormentors, managed to seek justice from the courts.

So influential were the persons accused of this ghastly crime and so politically fraught was the issue that not only had the case to be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) instead of by the Gujarat police, but it also had to be transferred from Gujarat to a special CBI court in Mumbai, to ensure a fair trial, because of the death threats received by Bilkis Bano. In January 2008, the special CBI court in Mumbai sentenced 11 accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family.  The case was a rare one because not only were the rapists and murderers punished, but so, too, were the policemen and doctors who tried to tamper with and erase the evidence to protect the accused and cover up the crime.

After serving 15 years in jail, one of the accused, Radheshyam Shah, approached the Supreme Court with a plea for his premature release. The Gujarat High Court which had earlier been approached for this purpose had dismissed his plea while observing that the “appropriate government” to decide the case was that of Maharashtra and not Gujarat. Shah then filed a plea in the Supreme Court.

On 13 May 2022, the Supreme Court passed an order in Radheshyam Bhagwandas Shah @ Lala Vakil vs State of Gujarat that, since the crime was committed in Gujarat, the state of Gujarat was the appropriate government to examine Shah’s application. Surely, going by the past history of the case and the collusion of the state officials with the perpetrators of the crime that was apparent, this case should have been dealt with differently! We have learnt that there is a judicial precedent in the Constitution Bench judgement of 2 December 2015  (Union of India vs V Sriharan alias Murugan), which holds that the appropriate government to decide the issue shall be the state government where the conviction took place, which in this case would be the state of Maharashtra. We consider it unfortunate that the Constitution Bench precedent laid down in V Sriharan’s case was not followed in the Radheshyam Shah judgement of 13 May 2022.

The Supreme Court, on Radheshyam Shah’s plea, also directed that the application for premature release be considered by the Gujarat government within two months, and in terms of its policy dated 9 July 1992. We are puzzled about why the Supreme Court saw the matter as so urgent that a decision had to be taken within two months, as also by the Supreme Court ordering that the case should be examined as per Gujarat’s 1992 remission policy and not its current one. While it may be the practice, as held by the Supreme Court in its judgment of 22 March 2010 in State of Haryana & Ors vs Jagdish, to examine a remission proposal on the basis of the policy existing at the time of conviction, surely the Supreme Court could not be unaware of the major changes in the punishment for rape and murder and the policy for remission which were made much more severe in 2014 after the Nirbhaya case? Can persons who committed rape and murder in 2002 be less liable than persons who rape and murder at the present time?

The Gujarat government duly considered the application for remission on the basis of their remission policy of 1992 and not only cut short the sentence of Radheshyam Shah who had filed the petition, and set him free, but also 10 other persons who had been convicted of the same crime and sentenced with Radheshyam Shah. It is our view that in doing so the Gujarat government  committed several errors: (1) According to Section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), where a case has been investigated by the CBI, clearance of the Union Government has to be taken before giving remission in sentence. We are unaware whether such permission was taken, but it does not seem that it was; (2) According to Section 432(2) of the CrPC , the opinion of the presiding Judge of the court that passed the order of conviction has to be taken before granting such remission. The Government of India, while writing to the State governments in February 2013, quoted the Supreme Court order which inter alia stated “Before actually exercising the power of remission under Section 432 of the CrPC the appropriate Government must obtain the opinion (with reasons) of the presiding judge of the convicting or confirming Court. Remission can, therefore, be given only on a case-by-case basis and not in a wholesale manner”   It appears that the view of the presiding judge of the CBI court was not taken; (3) In a case like this where the victim, her family and witnesses braved death threats and threats of physical harm in fighting the case and shifted residence repeatedly for safety, it was obligatory for the Gujarat government to ascertain how such a release would impact their lives. This was not done even though the victim and her supporters have often stated that they were threatened with violence by the convicts (who were liberally granted parole while in jail) as well as by the families and friends of the convicts. Bilkis has reportedly changed homes some 20 times over these years, because of threats to her life. With the celebrated release of the convicts from jail, the trauma, suffering and vulnerability to harm for Bilkis will be significantly heightened; (4) It is also shocking that five out of ten members of the Advisory Committee, which sanctioned the early release, belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party, while the remaining are ex-officio members. This raises the important question of the impartiality and independence of the decision, and vitiates both the process and its outcome.

In view of these glaring deviations from established law, departure from government policy and propriety, and the chilling impact that this release will have, not just on Bilkis Bano and her family and supporters, but also on the safety of all women in India, especially those who belong to minority and vulnerable communities, we urge you to rescind the order of remission passed by the Gujarat government and send the 11 persons convicted of gang rape and murder back to jail to serve out their life sentence.

SATYAMEVA JAYATE

Yours faithfully,

Constitutional Conduct Group (134 signatories, as below)

1. Anita Agnihotri IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, GoI
2. Salahuddin Ahmad IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
3. S.P. Ambrose IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
4. Anand Arni RAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
5. Mohinderpal Aulakh IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police (Jails), Govt. of Punjab
6. Aruna Bagchee IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Mines, GoI
7. J.L. Bajaj IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Administrative Reforms and Decentralisation Commission, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
8. G. Balachandhran IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
9. Vappala Balachandran IPS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
10. Gopalan Balagopal IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
11. Chandrashekar Balakrishnan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
12. Sushant Baliga Engineering Services (Retd.) Former Additional Director General, Central PWD, GoI
13. Rana Banerji RAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
14. T.K. Banerji IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
15. Sharad Behar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
16. Madhu Bhaduri IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Portugal
17. Pradip Bhattacharya IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Development & Planning and Administrative Training Institute, Govt. of West Bengal
18. Meeran C Borwankar IPS (Retd.) Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI
19. Ravi Budhiraja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, GoI
20. Sundar Burra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
21. R. Chandramohan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Secretary, Transport and Urban Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
22. K.M. Chandrasekhar IAS (Retd.) Former Cabinet Secretary, GoI
23. Rachel Chatterjee IAS (Retd.) Former Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh
24. Kalyani Chaudhuri IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
25. Gurjit Singh Cheema IAS (Retd.) Former Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Govt. of Punjab
26. F.T.R. Colaso IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Karnataka & former Director General of Police, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
27. Anna Dani IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
28. Vibha Puri Das IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI
29. P.R. Dasgupta IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
30. Nareshwar Dayal IFS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
31. Pradeep K. Deb IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI
32. Nitin Desai   Former Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI
33. M.G. Devasahayam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
34. Sushil Dubey IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Sweden
35. A.S. Dulat IPS (Retd.) Former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office, GoI
36. K.P. Fabian IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Italy
37. Prabhu Ghate IAS (Retd.) Former Addl. Director General, Department of Tourism, GoI
38. Arif Ghauri IRS (Retd.) Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)
39. Gourisankar Ghosh IAS (Retd.) Former Mission Director, National Drinking Water Mission, GoI
40. Suresh K. Goel IFS (Retd.) Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, GoI
41. S.K. Guha IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI
42. H.S. Gujral IFoS (Retd.) Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt. of Punjab
43. Meena Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
44. Ravi Vira Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
45. Wajahat Habibullah IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI and former Chief Information Commissioner
46. Deepa Hari IRS (Resigned)  
47. Vivek Harinarain IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Tamil Nadu
48. Sajjad Hassan IAS (Retd.) Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur
49. Siraj Hussain IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture, GoI
50. Kamal Jaswal IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
51. Naini Jeyaseelan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
52. Najeeb Jung IAS (Retd.) Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi
53. Vinod C. Khanna IFS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, MEA, GoI
54. Dhirendra Krishna IA&AS (Retd.) Former Financial Controller, Irrigation Department, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
55. Ajai Kumar IFoS (Retd.) Former Director, Ministry of Agriculture, GoI
56. Brijesh Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
57. Ish Kumar IPS (Retd.) Former DGP (Vigilance & Enforcement), Govt. of Telangana and former Special Rapporteur, National Human Rights Commission
58. Aloke B. Lal IPS (Retd.) Former Director General (Prosecution), Govt. of Uttarakhand
59. Subodh Lal IPoS (Resigned) Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI
60. Sunil Lal IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Brazil and former Ambassador to Spain
61. B.B. Mahajan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. of Food, GoI
62. P.M.S. Malik IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Myanmar & Special Secretary, MEA, GoI
63. Harsh Mander IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
64. Amitabh Mathur IPS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
65. Lalit Mathur IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, National Institute of Rural Development, GoI
66. Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
67. Dalip Mehta IFS (Retd.) Former Secretary to GoI & Dean, Foreign Service Institute
68. Shivshankar Menon IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser
69. Sonalini Mirchandani IFS (Resigned) GoI
70. Malay Mishra IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Hungary
71. Sunil Mitra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
72. Noor Mohammad IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India
73. Avinash Mohananey IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Sikkim
74. Geetmala Mohananey IRS (Retd.) Former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI
75. Satya Narayan Mohanty IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
76. Jugal Mohapatra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Rural Development, GoI
77. Deb Mukharji IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
78. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
79. Gautam Mukhopadhaya IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Myanmar
80. Pranab S. Mukhopadhya IAS (Retd.) Former Director, Institute of Port Management, GoI
81. T.K.A. Nair IAS (Retd.) Former Adviser to Prime Minister of India
82. Sobha Nambisan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Secretary (Planning), Govt. of Karnataka
83. Ramesh Narayanaswami IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
84. Surendra Nath IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
85. P.A. Nazareth IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Egypt and Mexico
86. P. Joy Oommen IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Chhattisgarh
87. Amitabha Pande IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
88. Mira Pande IAS (Retd.) Former State Election Commissioner, West Bengal
89. Maxwell Pereira IPS (Retd.) Former Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi
90. G.K. Pillai IAS (Retd.) Former Home Secretary, GoI
91. R. Poornalingam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GoI
92. Jayant Prasad IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Nepal
93. Rajesh Prasad IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to the Netherlands
94. R.M. Premkumar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
95. Rajdeep Puri IRS (Resigned) Former Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI
96. T.R. Raghunandan IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI
97. N.K. Raghupathy IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI
98. V.P. Raja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
99. K. Sujatha Rao IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI

 

100. M.Y. Rao IAS (Retd.)  
101. Satwant Reddy IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI

 

102. Vijaya Latha Reddy IFS (Retd.) Former Deputy National Security Adviser, GoI
103. Julio Ribeiro IPS (Retd.) Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania
104. Aruna Roy IAS (Resigned)  
105. Manabendra N. Roy IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
106. A.K. Samanta IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police (Intelligence), Govt. of West Bengal
107. Deepak Sanan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
108. G. Sankaran IC&CES (Retd.) Former President, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal
109. S. Satyabhama IAS (Retd.) Former Chairperson, National Seeds Corporation, GoI
110. N.C. Saxena IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
111. A. Selvaraj IRS (Retd.) Former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, GoI
112. Ardhendu Sen IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
113. Abhijit Sengupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI
114. Aftab Seth IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Japan
115. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFoS (Retd.) Former MD, State Forest Development Corporation, Govt. of Gujarat
116. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
117. Navrekha Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Indonesia
118. Raju Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
119. Ajai Kumar Singh IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Karnataka
120. Mukteshwar Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission
121. Ramesh Inder Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Punjab and former Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab
122. Sujatha Singh IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary, GoI
123. Tara Ajai Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka
124. Tirlochan Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, GoI
125. A.K. Srivastava IAS (Retd.) Former Administrative Member, Madhya Pradesh Administrative Tribunal
126. Parveen Talha IRS (Retd.) Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
127. Anup Thakur IAS (Retd.) Former Member, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
128. P.S.S. Thomas IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
129. Geetha Thoopal IRAS (Retd.) Former General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata
130. Hindal Tyabji IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
131. Jawed Usmani IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh & former Chief Information Commissioner, Uttar Pradesh
132. Ashok Vajpeyi IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi
133. Ramani Venkatesan IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra
134. Rudi Warjri IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica

 

4 thoughts on “CCG Open Letter to the Hon’ble Chief Justice Of India

  1. Jagmohan Khera

    आदरणीय CJI,रमन्ना/यूयू ललित जी जाते जाते रिटायरमेनट से पेहले एक नेक काम और कर दे कि सुप्रीम कोर्ट के न्याय के नकली नाटक मंच/मंडली मंदिर पर बहुत बडा ताला लगा कर बंद कर जाऐ

    ताकि आम जनता पूण न्याय मिलने की ऊमीद/आस/धोखे/झांसे में तो ना जिऐ/मरे

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  2. Jagmohan Khera

    [01/09, 06:50] Jagmohan Khera: आरक्षण मौलिक अधिकार नहीं और लोकतंत्र खतरे में (सुप्रीम कोर्ट

    फिर भी पूरी दुनिया में भारत अकेला ऐसा देश है जहा पिछले 75 सालो से नालायक या नाकारा असली या नकली या दोगले या मक्कार या स्वार्थी या गद्दार या चापलूस हिंदू या गैर हिन्दू दोस्त रिशतेदार पडोसी आरक्षण या जात पात या धर्म या रिश्वत या भरष्ट राजनिति या परिवार वाद या गाधी निति 😔🙊🙈🙉😔 या देश/जन सेवा की आड में मरते दम तक जन शिकायत पर बिना किसी जवाबदेही के नेता/मंत्री/सांसद/जज/वकील/डाक्टर/पुलिस सरकारी अधिकारी अफसर पदक/पद/परमोशनस/ऐकसटेनशनस पाकर धोखा/झासा देकर भारत की भोली भाली गरीब जनता को मूर्ख बना कर लूट कर अरबों खरबो की कमीशन या दलाली खाकर भारत की भोली भाली गरीब जनता को मूर्ख बना कर लूट कर खा रहे हैं

    जैसे दीमक की फौज मिट्टी की आड में लकडी को खा जाती है [01/09, 06:50] Jagmohan Khera: *कडवा सच कल भी यही था और आज भी यही है कि कुछ नही बदला सिर्फ चेहरे बदले हैं **

    ऐसे असली या नकली या दोगले या मक्कार लोगो को मरते दम तक सभी सरकारी बंगले/सुख सुरक्षा सुविधाऐं सब फ्री कमीशन के साथ चाहिए

    बाकि देश/जनता या कोई सुशानत सिंह या विपिन रावत जी जैसे सच्चे देश भक्त सैनिक मरते हैं तो मरने दो हमे क्या अपना दोस्त रिशतेदार थोडे ही है

    जानते हैं कि जन शिकायत पर दोषी पाए जाने पर पैसो के दम पर भरष्ट या रिशवतखोर या जमीनखोर या मुफ्तखोर या दलाल या कमीशनखोर नेता/मंत्री/सांसद/जज/वकील/डाक्टर/पुलिस/ सरकारी अधिकारी अफसर की मदद से सुप्रीम कोर्ट से भी बरी हो जाऐगे

    और गैर हिन्दू का कोई विदेश में भी दुखी है तो वह उसका भाई/दोस्त/रिश्तेदार है

    देश/जन हित में अपने निजी विचार वयक्त करें हाँ या ना

    जय हिन्द

    Like

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