Bilkis Bano case: SC quashes remission to 11 convicts

The Supreme Court on January 8 held that the May 2022 order of another bench of the top court is null since it was obtained by fraud by the petitioner convict. It has quashed the early release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case. All 11 will be sent back to jail.

It quashed the order of the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission to 11 convicts in the rape of Bilkis Bano. The apex court has also pulled up the Gujarat government for passing remission orders in August 2022 in a cyclostyled manner, with no application of mind.

Gujarat government did not have jurisdiction to decide the remission since the appropriate government to consider remission was the state where the trial took place, it added. In this case, it took place in Maharashtra.

Supreme Court bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan on January 8 said the Gujarat government was not the appropriate government to pass the remission order while holding the PIL challenging the remission as maintainable.

Bilkis Bano had filed a petition challenging the remission granted to convicts. Besides the petition filed by Bano, several other PILs, including one by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, independent journalist Revati Laul, and former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma, have challenged the relief.

TMC leader Mahua Moitra has also filed a PIL against the remission and their premature release.

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 in Gujarat. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed in the riots.

All 11 convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government and released on August 15, 2022.