Bilkis Bano case : Supreme Court rightly cancels remission of convicts

Righting a horrible wrong, the Supreme Court has quashed the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. A pregnant Bilkis was gangraped and seven of her family members were murdered during the 2002 riots in the state. Sentenced to life imprisonment for committing these heinous crimes, the convicts had been released, ironically, on Independence Day in 2022. The state government had gone by the 1992 remission policy, which was in force when the conviction took place in 2008, and not the 2014 policy, which forbids the release of rape-murder convicts.

According to the court, the rule of law was breached as the state government usurped power not vested in it. Calling this an instance of abuse of power, the SC said it was the government of Maharashtra, where the trial and sentencing took place, that was competent to take a decision on the remission plea of the convicts. The ruling is a major embarrassment not only for the Gujarat government but also the Centre. In October 2022, the state government had told the apex court that it had decided to release the convicts primarily due to three reasons: they had completed 14 years or more in prison; their conduct was found to be good; and the Centre had conveyed its ‘concurrence/approval’ regarding their premature release. They had been freed despite the CBI’s contention that the offences committed were ‘heinous, grave and serious’ and hence ‘no leniency may be given’ to them.

Adding insult to injury, the convicts had been greeted with garlands after they walked out of the Godhra sub-jail. The court verdict is a stern reminder to the state and Central governments that they can’t make a mockery of law and justice and get away with it.

(Tribune, India)

Be the first to comment

The Indian Panorama - Best Indian American Newspaper in New York & Dallas - Comments