Published On: Mon, Jan 8th, 2024

SC quashes Bilkis Bano rape convicts’ remission

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has invalidated the Gujarat government’s directive granting remission to 11 convicts involved in the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots.

Gujarat government had released the 11 convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment

The court has categorically declared that the state’s action constitutes a clear case of both usurpation and abuse of power.

The apex court said it is the duty of this court to correct arbitrary orders at the earliest and to retain the foundation of trust of the public. The Supreme Court directed all 11 convicts to report to jail authorities within two weeks.

“”It is a very good judgement which has upheld the Rule of Law and the faith of the people of this country, particularly the women, in the legal system, the courts, and that there is an assurance for justice,” said advocate Vrinda Grover.

The apex court also held that the judgement of May 13, 2022, which directed the Gujarat government to consider remission of convict, was obtained by ‘playing fraud’ on the court and by suppressing material facts.

The top court also said that the convicts had not approached the court with clean hands. Noting that the state, where an offender is tried and sentenced, is competent to decide the remission plea of convicts, the apex court held that Gujarat was not competent to pass the remission orders but the Maharashtra government.

Bilkis Bano and others had approached the top court, challenging the premature release of 11 convicts. The Gujarat government had released the 11 convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, on August 15, 2022. All the 11 life-term convicts in the case were released as per the remission policy prevalent in Gujarat at the time of their conviction in 2008.

In March 2002, during the post-Godhra riots, Bano was allegedly gang-raped and left to die with 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. She was five months pregnant when rioters attacked her family in Vadodara.

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