India Supreme Court overturns Gujarat govt’s decision to release 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano case

Bilkis Bano. Photo courtesy: UNI

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New Delhi/IBNS: The Supreme Court on Monday overturned the Gujarat government’s decision to release 11 convicts in the case pertaining to rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 communal riot which took place in the state, media reports said.

The top court said the Gujarat government is not competent to grant remission to the convicts.

Bano was 21 years old and was five months pregnant when she was gang raped.

The 11 convicts allegedly killed seven members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The state government and the convicts, however, argued that the remission was considered after the May 2022 judgment by the Supreme Court, which directed the Gujarat government to decide the remission of one of the convicts, Radheshyam Bhagwandas Shah, under the 1992 remission plea within two months.

This triggered action by the state government to consider the release of all convicts under the 1992 policy, the state submitted.

The state took the opinion of the presiding judge of Godhra court on June 3, 2022, and formed a jail advisory committee, which considered the opinion of the local police, jail superintendent, and the trial court judge to recommend the release of the prisoners on August 10, 2022.

A public interest litigation was filed by former Communist Party of India MP Subhashini Ali and others challenging the remission. Later, now expelled Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra also joined in challenging the remission.

Bilkis Bano told the apex court that she was not informed about the remission and came to know about it from the media.

She approached the top court in November 2022 against the remission.