Sunday, June 16, 2024

Supreme Court Strikes Down Remission for Bilkis Bano Case Rapists

Date:

introduction – India’s Supreme Court has quashed the Gujarat government’s order that allowed the release of 11 men convicted of raping Bilkis Bano case and murdering seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The 11 men were serving life terms for the gangrape of a then 21-year-old and five months-pregnant Ms Bano, who was gang-raped on 3 March 2002 in Gujarat’s Dahod district amid widespread violence in Just days before, 59 people who were mostly volunteers of Hindu organisations, were killed on the Sabarmati Express train when their coach was set on fire at Gujarat’s Godhra in a heavily disputed claim.

Background

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the communal violence targeting members of one community during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed. The incident unleashed violence across the state on an unprecedented scale. According to government data, more than 1,000 people were killed in post-Godhra violence. But unofficial estimates state over 2,000 people – mostly Muslims – were killed.

Remission granted and quashed

The Gujarat government had on August 15, 2023, released the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case under its 1992 remission and premature release policy. This came after one of the convicts, Radheshyam Shah, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a CBI court in Mumbai in 2008, approached the Supreme Court after completing 15 years and four months in jail. Following the state government’s decision, Bilkis Bano approached the Supreme Court in a writ petition challenging the premature release of the convicts.The Supreme Court on Monday quashed the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. The court noted that the Gujarat government had no jurisdiction to entertain the application for remission or pass the order of release. It added that the appropriate government to decide remission is the state within whose jurisdiction the offence was committed. Therefore, the competent government in this matter would be the Maharashtra government.

Reaction

The order of their release, now overturned and likely to send the convicts back to jail, was passed in August 2022, sparking widespread anger in India. Bilkis Bano moved the Supreme Court saying “the en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience. She termed it “one of the most gruesome crimes this country has ever seen” and added she was “shell completely numb…” after the convicts were released.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court’s decision to quash the remission granted to the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case has been welcomed by many. The decision sends a strong message that justice must be served, and those who commit heinous crimes must be held accountable for their actions. The case highlights the need for a fair and impartial justice system that upholds the rule of law and protects the rights of all citizens, regardless of their background or religion.

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