After agreeing to ‘see’ the PIL listed by several activists, Supreme Court fixated the date to consider Bilkis Bano’s case as September 9, 2022. The petition challenged the remission of 11 convicts by the Gujarat government on August 15, 2022. It also directed the prompt arrest of the convicts charged with rape and murder.
On August 25, a three-judge bench led by the former Chief Justice Of India NV Ramana issued a notice and ordered the convicts to be present for the hearing. However, a week later, SC disposed of the ten pleas related to the Gujarat riots in 2002, one of them being the Bilkis Bano case.
In April 2022, Justice DY Chandrachud mentioned that a state cannot practice its remission rights ‘arbitrarily.’ Nevertheless, the 11 ‘Brahmins of good sanskaras’ lined up outside the Godhra jail on August 15. Their relatives touched their feet and greeted them with flower garlands and sweets. Unaware of the Gujarat government’s decision, a helpless Bilkis Bano saw her rapists go free, which shook her faith in justice. She says, “How can justice for women end like this?”
Not only Bilkis but activists around India have expressed their distrust in the decision and pleaded with the apex bench to hear the plea. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal and Advocate Aparna Bhat have challenged the remission of the 11 men who raped a 21-year-old and five months pregnant Bilkis Bano in 2002. On August 18, 2022, around 6,000 signatories urged the Supreme Court to revoke the early release of the rapists.
Sukanta Chaudhuri, in her piece on Bilkis Bano and the remission of the convicts, says that the decision has ‘shaken her customary pride as a citizen.’ Many leaders of the opposition parties have also slammed the ruling party for the same.
But the statement by a senior state government official came like a bolt from the blue. He said that the government panel considered all ‘parameters’ before releasing the convicts, including age, behaviour in prison and the nature of the crime. As a reminder, “the nature of the crime” is the gang rape of a five-month pregnant woman in front of her three-year-old daughter and the murder of her entire family.
On August 23, Trinamool Congress MP Mohua Moitra filed a PIL, followed by another one by Subhashini Ali, Revati Laul and Roop Rekha Varma.
Earlier, SC directed the Gujarat government to build a house for her and provide her with ₹50 lakhs. However, Bilkis Bano, a woman who witnessed the murder of 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old toddler, received nothing but injustice. For her, 2022 remains as scary as 2002.
Read More: The Politics Of Hate And Why Gujarat Will Not Do Justice To Bilkis Bano