The Supreme Court on Monday cancelled the remission granted by the Gujarat government to 11 convicts serving life sentences for gangrape and murder in the 2002 Bilkis Bano case. The apex court has directed them to surrender within two weeks.
A bench headed by Justice Ajay Rastogi held that the state government’s order releasing the convicts was “invalid” as they had failed to conduct an inquiry into their conduct in jail.
The SC said material facts were suppressed and fundamental principles of granting remission were violated by the government. As per the court, the convicts acquired remission by way of fraud.
Bilkis Bano was pregnant when she was gangraped in Randhikpur village during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Seven of her family members were also killed by the mob.
A special CBI court in Mumbai had convicted 11 accused in 2008 and awarded them life imprisonment. They were released prematurely on August 15 last year after the Gujarat government allowed their remission.
The SC order came on pleas challenging the convicts’ release filed by Bilkis Bano, CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali and others. The apex court found the petitions maintainable and agreed to examine the matter.
With the grant of remission now revoked, the 11 convicts will have to return to jail to complete their sentence. The SC ruling underscores that judicial process cannot be given the go-by in such sensitive cases.
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