The Supreme Court on Thursday noted that it has to examine whether the convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case had received any preferential treatment when it came to their premature release from prison. [Bilkis Yakub Rasool v. Union of India and ors]..The Court said that the argument that the nature of a crime and evidence in a case are not the only factors for considering remission or applications for the early release of convicts, is well taken..However, the bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan also questioned whether the convicts in this case had been given any preferential treatment."Are some convicts being treated differently is the question? Are some convicts more privileged than others?" Justice Nagarathna asked.Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra who appeared for the convicts began to respond by saying,"Every convict ..."" ... is not the same?" quipped Justice Nagarathna. "My lady took the words out of my mouth," Luthra replied, smiling. The top court was hearing a batch of pleas 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.The Gujarat government had granted remission to the convicts following a May 2022 judgment of the apex court, which came on a plea moved by one of the convicts, Radhyesham.The convicts, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, were released by the Gujarat government ahead of the assembly polls in the State.This led to the present batch of pleas before the top court challenging the remission..Luthra today argued that the convicts cannot be denied the benefit of remission only on the ground that the crime was heinous.The Court responded by pointing out that the question is whether the convicts in this case were given the benefit of remission legally."We are not sitting in review. My learned friends argued on the nature of crime and evidence. That is not the aspect to be taken note of (for remission) any longer," Luthra replied.The bench said that such points are well taken."The law has taken its course. Question is when will the punishment if at all end? Should these people be deprived of liberty? Does not the executive have the power to decide on this?" Luthra further argued. .He added that adverse reports were given against the early release of the convicts including by a Maharashtra trial court judge only in view of the nature of the crime rather than the convicts' reformation prospects and their conduct in jail.The hearing in the case will continue on September 20 at 3 PM..During a hearing in the matter last month, the Court had remarked that an accused in a criminal case has a constitutional right to be reintegrated into society.In an earlier hearing, the Court had also asked the Gujarat and Central governments why remission policies were being applied selectively..On a related note, the Supreme Court in another case recently highlighted the importance of holistically considering applications for premature release. In that case, the Court also noted that a trial judge's opinion should not be considered mechanically while deciding on remission.