Highlights

  • SC finds Bilkis Bano's plea challenging rapists' release maintainable
  • SC quashes the order granting early release to Bilkis Bano's rapists
  • Bilkis Bano's rapists were released early in August 2022

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Bilkis Bano case: SC says Gujarat govt didn't have powers to release, all rapists to return to jail

 The Supreme Court on Monday quashed the Gujarat government's decision to grant remission to 11 convicts in the case of gangrape of Bilkis Bano and murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 riots in the state,

Bilkis Bano case: SC says Gujarat govt didn't have powers to release, all rapists to return to jail

The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the remission order of Bilkis Bano's rapists while ruling that the Gujarat government was not the competent authority to pass the orders. The top court has directed all 11 rapists to surrender within two weeks.

The men were convicted for raping a pregnant Bilkis Bano, who was 21 at the time, and murdering 7 of her family members, including her 3-year-old daughter, in 2002 during the Godhra riots. The Gujarat government granted them remission in August 2022 and ordered their early release.

While overturning the decision, the bench, comprising Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan, argued that since the rapists were convicted and sentenced in Maharashtra, Gujarat "had no jurisdiction to entertain the application for remission or pass the orders as it was not the appropriate government”.

"We need not have gone into the other issues. But for sake of completion, we have. Rule of law is breached because the Gujarat government usurped power not vested in it and abused its power. On that ground also, the remission orders deserve to be quashed," the bench said while pronouncing the judgement which spanned over 100 pages.

The court also noted that its May 2022 order allowing the Gujarat government to apply for remission and order the premature release of the convicts was secured by fraud and deemed invalid.

"We strike down the remission orders on the ground of usurpation of power by Gujarat government," the bench said.

On August 15 last year, the Gujarat government released the 11 convicts under its 1992 remission and premature release policy. This happened after one of the convicts, Radheshyam Shah, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a CBI court in Mumbai in 2008, approached the apex court after completing 15 years and four months in jail.

Following the release of her rapists, Bano filed a plea in the SC objecting to the premature release of the convicts. In her petiton, she said that she was "shell shocked, completely numb…” after the convicts were released.

The top court had reserved the verdict on October 12 last year after holding hearings for 11 days.


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