Freed By Gujarat, SC Orders Bilkis Bano Rapists Back To Jail
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – Setting aside the “stereotyped and cyclostyled” remission orders passed by the Gujarat government, the Supreme Court on January 8 asked 11 gang-rape and murder convicts in the Bilkis Bano case to surrender before the jail authorities concerned within two weeks.
A bench of Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan said that the state of Maharashtra had the jurisdiction to consider the early release application filed by convicts as they were sentenced by a special court in Mumbai.
It held that the Gujarat government is not the appropriate government and the application filed by convicts seeking remission “had to be simply rejected by the State of Gujarat owing to lack of jurisdiction to consider them”.
It said that the May 2022 order passed by the top court, asking the Gujarat government to consider the remission application filed by a convict, was obtained by a convict by suppressing material aspects and by misleading it.
“We strike down the orders of remission on the ground of usurpation of powers by the State of Gujarat not vested in it. The orders of remission are hence quashed on this ground also.”
Importantly, the top court held the writ petition filed by victim Bilkis Bano is maintainable where she had challenged the validity of the Gujarat government’s decision to prematurely release 11 convicts on August 15, 2022.
The apex court had, in 2004, ordered transfer of the case from Gujarat to Mumbai for trial and disposal. The Special Judge, Greater Mumbai in 2008 convicted the 11 accused and sentenced them to life imprisonment for the commission of various offenses, including the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of her family members during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.