Remission of Convicts Unjustified

The release of 11 convicts sentenced to life for the heinous murder of seven people and the gangrape of three women in 2002 in Gujarat is a questionable decision by the State. On the face of it, it also appears to be illegal, as their terms seem to have been remitted without the required consultation with the Union government. It defies logic that those convicted for direct involvement in the rape of three women, the murder of a three-year-old and six others can be considered candidates for premature release under any remission policy.

The remission in a case that lies at the heart of the continuing search for justice after the communal violence in Gujarat 2002 portends a disquieting backsliding. It is a grave setback for the tortuous legal battle to secure convictions in the horrific crimes of 2002 in the face of formidable obstacles and powerful odds.

Bilkis and her extended family were attacked by a mob on 3 March 2002 while they were fleeing their village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district. The Supreme Court intervened in the case after Bilkis approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The trial was shifted out of Gujarat to Maharashtra on the SC’s direction after she received death threats. The ruling of the CBI court was upheld by the Bombay High Court in 2017 and in 2019, the Supreme Court awarded compensation of `50 lakh to Bilkis.

The remission also runs contrary to the spirit of contemporary thinking on treating crimes against women and children, especially rape combined with murder, as so heinous that the perpetrators should not be considered for remission. It is not clear if the committee that recommended remission had considered the disquieting effect the release of these prisoners might have on the survivors and other members of the affected community. In this case, the concern that it could set a precedent cannot be ignored.

It is disturbing and disappointing that the Supreme Court, which had stepped in to ensure that Bilkis and other victims and survivors of Gujarat-2002 received justice, allowed a remission plea by one of the convicts earlier this year in May, which led to the state government setting up the prison board that has now ordered the release of all 11 convicts.

The Supreme Court needs to step in once again. The court must direct that the remission be revoked.

S.S. Paul

Nadia (West Bengal)

Justice Denied to Bilkis Bano

Let’s recall 2002 Gujarat riots, wherein more than three thousand innocent Muslims, as per unofficial sources, were massacred and properties worth thousands of crores of rupees belonging to the Muslims were either burnt or damaged. Indeed, it was a genocide of Muslims.  A 21-year-old Bilkis Bano, a five-month pregnant, was gangraped by the fanatics who also brutally murdered her seven family members and smashed to death her three-year-old daughter. However, the case was referred to CBI and after its thorough investigation, 11 accused persons were found involved in that ghastly incident and a special CBI court convicted all the 11 persons and sentenced them life imprisonment. 

Now, when the entire country was busy celebrating India’s 75th Independence year on 15th August 2022, unfortunately at the same time the Gujarat government had a decision to release all the 11 convicts involved in the Bilkis Bano’s gangrape and murder of seven of her family members. I was shocked to hear the news. It is so sad that even after waiting for 20 long years, the family members of victim Bilkis Bano could not get justice. Is this the “New India” that our Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks? 

Syed Amjad Ali

Telangana State

Bilkis Bano’s Faith Shaken in Justice System

The Gujarat government released 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder case on 15th August 2022. The state government panel approved for remission of sentence. Bano was pregnant at that time, she was gangraped and seven members of her family including her 3-year daughter were killed mercilessly.

Videos of the convicts’ relatives greeting them with sweets and touching their feet outside the Godhra jail, went viral on the social media. The Gujarat government is facing widespread criticism.

Where is “Nari Shakti”?

Chowdhry Nisar Ahmed

Noorullah Pet, Ambur (T.N.)

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