Bilkis Bano case: Ex-NHRC member Sujata Manohar terms decision to release 11 convicts as ‘dilution of rule of law’

Former Supreme Court judge Sujata Manohar, who was a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) when the body intervened on behalf of Bilkis Bano in 2003, sought the release of 11 convicts in the 2002 gang rape and murder case from Gujarat. Government’s decision. The riots were “undermining the rule of law”.

The decision to release the convicts, especially in such a case cannot be made arbitrarily. When a court has convicted and sentenced him, releasing him arbitrarily undermines the rule of law,” the former judge told

On 15 August, 11 convicts walked out of jail after a Gujarat government panel granted them remission of a life sentence. Bilkis Bano, who was pregnant at the time, was gang-raped and her three-year-old daughter Saleha was one of 14, who was killed by mobs during the violence that broke out across Gujarat on March 3, 2002, following the attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra in Dahod was killed. 59 passengers were killed, mainly kar sevaks.

Significantly, in 2003, it was the significant intervention of the NHRC that ensured legal aid for Bano to approach the Supreme Court after the Gujarat Police closed the case.

The human rights body under former Chief Justice of India JS Verma had met him in March 2002 while visiting a relief camp in Godhra. Justice Manohar was then a member of the commission, which appointed senior advocate and former Solicitor General Harish Salve. To represent him before the Supreme Court.

Salve argued for a fresh investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and, later, for the transfer of the trial from Gujarat to Mumbai. Bano’s case was the only case related to the Gujarat riots that the CBI had investigated afresh.

“It is very sad to see the matter taking this turn. We want to empower women but we do not ensure adequate protection for them. This relaxation does not give a proper message on the safety of women,” Justice Manohar said.


Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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