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Bilkis Bano case: SC quashes Gujarat govt’s remission order for 11 convicts

Bilkis Bano case: SC quashes Gujarat govt’s remission order for 11 convicts

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday quashed the Gujarat government's decision to grant remission to 11 convicts in the case of the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 riots in the state.

Holding the PIL challenging the remission as maintainable, a bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan said the Gujarat government was not the appropriate government to pass the remission order.

“Gujarat government had no jurisdiction to entertain the application for remission or pass the orders as it was not the appropriate government”, the court noted.

It added that the appropriate government to decide remission is the state within whose jurisdiction the accused were sentenced and not the state within whose territorial limits the offence was committed or the accused were imprisoned. Therefore, the competent government in this matter would be the Maharashtra government, reported Indian Express.

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The bench also observed that its May 2022 order directing the Gujarat government to decide the remission was secured by suppressing facts and fraud played on court.

“The SC order of May 13, 2022, directing Gujarat govt to decide the remission as per 1992 policy being a nullify, all the proceedings in pursuance of the order stands vitiated,” the court noted, as quoted by Indian Express.

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was raped while fleeing the horror of the communal riots that broke out after the Godhra train-burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed in the riots.

The Gujarat government had on August 15, 2023, released all the 11 convicts in the case under its 1992 remission and premature release policy.

The move 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 decision, Bano moved the apex court saying “the en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience of the society”. She termed it “one of the most gruesome crimes this country has ever seen” and added she was “shell shocked, completely numb…” after the convicts were released, reports Indian Express.

With PTI inputs

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