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HomeNewsLatest Legal NewsAll eleven convicts of the Bilkis Bano gang rape case released.

All eleven convicts of the Bilkis Bano gang rape case released.

A nationwide outrage has begun following the release 11 convicts, sentenced life imprisonment for the gang rape of Bilkis Yakub Rasool and the murder of seven others during 2022 Gujarat riots. All 11 convicts were released by the Committee formed by the Gujarat State Government, which was headed by the Godhra Collector. Significant number of BJP leaders included in the committee ignited the outrage even more. 

The remission plea filed by one of the convicts Radheshyam Bhagwandas Shah before the Gujarat Hich Court was dismissed on the ground that the State of Maharashtra has the jurisdiction of entertaining the remission plea, as the trial was concluded in Maharashtra. Later on, the Supreme Court of India ruled that it was the Gujarat Government that was competent to examine the remission plea because the crime had occurred in Gujarat. Furthermore, all the proceedings after the conclusion of the trial and passing of the judgement have to be considered in terms of the policy which is applicable in the State of Gujarat where the crime was committed and not where the trial stands transferred.

The Supreme Court also directed the Gujarat Government to consider the application filed by the convict as per the policy dated 9th July, 1992, which was applicable at the time of conviction. 

The Supreme Court relied on its previous judgement in State of Haryana v. Jagdish, where it was held that application for grant of premature release will have to be considered based on the policy which stood on the date of the conviction. 

The incident dates back to February 2002, amidst the communal riots in Gujarat, Balkis Bano who was 21 years old at the time and 5 months pregnant, along with her relatives, in an attempt to flee the region for their safety. They were attacked by the mob ad the mob that killed her three-year-old daughter and 14 other members of her family. Many were raped, molested and hacked to death by the mob. The communal violence broke in Gujarat in the aftermath of the Sabarmati Express was burned at Godhra on 27th February 2022. Nearly fifty-nine people died after the entire train coach was torched, consisting of a large number of Kar sevaks of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, returning from Ayodhya. 

Balkis Bano tried to lodge her complaint at the local police station, but the state machinery reportedly worked against her. She approached the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) and later moved the Supreme Court. The Court order a CBI probe into the case and August 2004, the trial was moved to Mumbai after Bilkis Bano submitted that she and her family are under constant threat and danger in Gujarat. After four years, the trial court held 13 of the 20 accused guilty and awarded life sentences for their crimes. In May 2017, the Bombay High Court upheld the conviction of the 11 convicts and quashed the acquittal award of the seven others. The Supreme Court also ordered Gujarat State Government to pay Bilkis Bano Rs. 50 Lakhs as Compensation along with a Job and accommodation. 

After the Supreme Court’s direction to form committee for considering the remission of the convict, the Gujarat Government formed the committee, headed by the Collector of Godhra. The committee also included members of Bhartiya Janta Party such as BJP legislator C.K. Raoliji, Suman Chauhan, Murli Mulchandani and Snehaben Bhatia. The Committee unanimously decided for the remission of those convicted and its recommendation was allowed by the State Home Department. On August 15, 2022, all the 11 convicts were released from the Godhra Sub-Jail where they were serving their sentence. 

Soon after their release, they were welcomed nothing less than a winner. Sweets were distributed and many other events were organized in their welcome. This incident has grabbed the nation’s attention and raises the question on the moral standards of our society, where rape convicts are welcomed with sweets and flower garlands. 

Anamika Singh
Anamika Singh

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