The Supreme Court today cancelled the Gujarat government’s decision to grant release to 11 men who raped Bilkis Bano and killed her child and other family members in 2002.
The convicts walked free on Independence Day in 2022 under an outdated remission policy of the Gujarat government, setting off a huge political controversy.
Ms Bano approached the Supreme Court in November 2022 challenging what she called “premature” release of the 11 convicts by the state government. She said the remission of sentence has “shaken the conscience of society”.
Launching a scathing attack on the BJP, Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said that the Gujarat government “appears to work to save the culprits, instead of getting justice for victims.”
“It is very unfortunate for the society, and people should ensure that the government runs as per the law. The government has failed to ensure justice for the victim of such a heinous crime,” Mr Doshi said.
Veteran Left leader Brinda Karat said the Supreme Court’s order “holds some hope for justice”
“The comments of the Supreme Court also point to the capability of the Central government and the Gujarat government led by the BJP. It was the Gujarat government that, according to the Supreme Court, accepted the documents, which the court has considered as fraud,” she said.
Bilkis Bano was 21 years old – five months pregnant – when she was raped and her toddler daughter killed along with six others from the family in Dahod district of Gujarat.
The trial in the case initially began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bilkis Bano expressed apprehensions that the witnesses could be harmed and the CBI evidence tampered with, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.
A special court had on 21 January, 2008 convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for raping Bilkis and murdering seven of her family members, while acquitting seven persons including the policemen and doctors. The decision was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.
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