Remission An Effort To Erase 2002 Riots Truth: Vrinda Grover

| Updated: August 28, 2022 10:28 am

Human rights activist Vrinda Grover said that the decision to grant remission by the Gujarat government to the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case is a part of the effort to “erase” the “truth of 2002 riots”. She further said that the decision comes close on the heels of the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Zakia Jafri case where activist Teesta Setalvad was “demonized.

“This method being adopted to demonise activists is part of a larger thing…the Bilkis remission to my mind is actually part of erasing the truth of 2002…except for the Sabarmati train burning, everything else that happened in 2002 is being sought to be erased. That is the erasure we are looking at and it is not new… State is a creature of habit and it has patterns, testing these patterns across different constituencies of people and which is why this phrase of ‘Gujarat model’ is so chilling,” Grover added.

The lawyer, who has appeared in prominent human rights cases and represented women and child survivors of domestic and sexual violence; victims and survivors of communal massacre, extrajudicial killings and custodial torture; sexual minorities; trade unions; and political activists, commented on the legality of the remission in the Bilkis Bano case. She pointed out that the transfer of the trial of the case from Gujarat to Maharashtra by SC inherently reflected the “complicity or the collapse of the system – be it the police, the prosecution or the judicial system (of Gujarat)…”.

Contrary to what many skeptics have said recently, Grover said that the 1992 remission policy will indeed be applicable in this case and there’s nothing wrong with the same. She, however, highlighted that the policy only stated that those who have spent 14 years of their conviction are eligible for consideration of remission and “does not mean that the jail doors should be thrown open for them”. She questioned if 11 convicts can be reformed on the same day and termed such a decision to be “incredulous”.

“The concurrence of the central government is mandatory so I’m going to assume that their concurrence was taken, which means the Ministry of Home Affairs has endorsed, concurred and agreed about this decision on the same day when the Prime Minister addressed ‘Mahila samman’,” she remarked, adding that the safety assessment for Bilkis too should have been a factor weighing with the Jail Advisory Committee (JAC) while deciding on the release of the 11. “Will the remission affect the society of …Muslim families have left and that shows this is affecting others apart from Bilkis,” she said.

She also pointed out other lapses in the decision — namely, that the then trial court judge UD Salvi has made statements in the media that his opinion was not taken by the JAC, in contravention of the remission policy, and had it been taken it would have been in the negative.

There are two petitions at the Supreme Court challenging the remission.

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