With the Supreme Court quashing the remission granted to 11 convicts in the case of gangrape of Bilkis Bano and murder of seven of her family members, the Congress on Monday claimed the Gujarat BJP government’s approach was to save the criminals rather than ensuring justice for the victim.
Human rights lawyer Anand Yagnik said the Gujarat government’s decision (to grant remission to the convicts) was not in conformity with law but something that appeared to have been passed under certain ”social, religious and political pressure”. With the Supreme Court’s judgment, the rule of law has prevailed, he said.
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 2002. 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.
The SC on Monday quashed the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission to the 11 convicts, saying the orders were ”stereotyped” and passed without application of mind. It directed the convicts to surrender before jail authorities within two weeks.
The SC said the Gujarat government was not the appropriate government to pass the remission order.
The apex court clarified that the state, where an offender is tried and sentenced, is competent to decide the remission plea of convicts. The convicts were tried by Maharashtra.
Reacting to the SC’s judgement, Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said the Gujarat BJP government does not appear to follow the law and the Constitution.
”It appears to work to save the culprits rather than get justice for victims, and this is very well proved by the Supreme Court’s judgement,” he claimed. This is not the only instance, there have been many such cases where the government has shielded those who commit a crime rather than protect the victims, he further claimed.
”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,” Doshi said.
Yagnik, the senior lawyer of the Gujarat High Court, said, ”In the first place, the rules which are applicable for remission do not allow the government to remit sentence to those convicts who are responsible for rape, murder and such heinous crimes.” The Supreme Court has ultimately come to the conclusion that the state or the central government do not have the right to remit the sentence of those involved in heinous crimes, he said.
”Even if it was up to the Maharashtra government, it cannot grant remission…The judgment shows that the rule of law is maintained,” Yagnik said. The state government’s decision was not in conformity with the law and it was ”social, religious and political pressure” that ultimately compelled the state of Gujarat to take such a decision, he claimed.