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Bilkis Bano Case: SC Overrules Gujarat Govt Decision To Grant Remission, All 11 Convicts To Return To Jail

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday overturned the Gujarat government’s decision to grant release to 11 convicts involved in the Bilkis Bano rape case and the murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The Apex Court held that the judgement of the Gujarat government was obtained by “fraud” on the court by suppressing material facts.

Justices BV Nagarthana and Ujjal Bhuyan, in their ruling, said the petition filed by Bilkis Bano against the release of 11 convicts was valid.

The court further noted that the Gujarat government lacked the authority to issue the order for the early release of the convicts. According to the bench, the rightful jurisdiction to make such decisions lies with Maharashtra.

The Gujarat government released the 11 convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, on August 15, 2022. All 11 life-term convicts in the case were released as per the remission policy prevalent in Gujarat at the time of their conviction in 2008.

In March 2002, during the post-Godhra riots, Bano was allegedly gang-raped and left to die with 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. She was five months pregnant when rioters attacked her family in Vadodara.

Bilkis Bano and others had approached the top court, challenging the premature release of 11 convicts. Some PILs were filed, seeking directions to revoke the remission granted to 11 convicts.

The Gujarat government, in its affidavit, defended the remission granted to convicts, saying they completed 14 years of sentence in prison and their “behaviour was found to be ood.”

The state government said it has considered the cases of all 11 convicts as per the policy of 1992, and remission was granted on August 10, 2022. The central government also approved the release of convicts.

The affidavit stated, “State government considered all the opinions and decided to release 11 prisoners since they have completed 14 years and above in prisons and their behaviour was found to be good.”

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