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Supreme Court quashes Gujarat govt’s decision to release 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano rape case, says State was not competent to pass remission orders

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.

The Supreme Court on Monday quashed the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission to 11 convicts involved in the case of the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The apex court 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 convicts had not approached the court with clean hands, the apex court observed.

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.

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.

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.

Bilkis Bano and others had approached the top court, challenging the premature release of 11 convicts. Some PILs were filed, seeking directions to revoke the remission granted to 11 convicts.

The pleas were filed by the National Federation of Indian Women, whose General Secretary is Annie Raja, Member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Subhashini Ali, journalist Revati Laul, social activist and professor Roop Rekha Verma and TMC MP Mahua Moitra.

The Gujarat government, in its affidavit, defended the remission granted to convicts, saying they completed 14 years of sentence in prison and their “behaviour was found to be good”.

The State government had said it has considered the cases of all 11 convicts as per the policy of 1992 and remission was granted on August 10, 2022, and central government also approved the release of convicts.

(This news report is published from a syndicated feed. Except for the headline, the content has not been written or edited by OpIndia staff)

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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