Supreme Court Cancels Gujarat’s Decision To Release Bilkis Bano’s Rapists

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Supreme Court Cancels Gujarat’s Decision To Release Bilkis Bano’s Rapists

| Updated: January 8, 2024 12:21

The Supreme Court today quashed the Gujarat government’s order to release 11 convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder case, saying it was not “competent” to do so.

Bilkis Bano, who was five months pregnant at the time, was raped and her three-year-old daughter was killed by a mob during the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. Seven other members of her family were also murdered at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002.

The case was transferred from Ahmedabad to Mumbai by the Supreme Court in 2004 after Bilkis Bano alleged that the witnesses and evidence were being threatened and tampered with by the Gujarat police and doctors.

In 2008, a special court in Mumbai convicted 11 men for life imprisonment for raping Bilkis and killing her family members, while acquitting seven others, including some policemen and doctors. The Bombay High Court upheld the conviction in 2017 and also convicted the seven acquitted persons for tampering with evidence.

In 2019, the Supreme Court awarded Bilkis Bano ₹ 50 lakh as compensation, along with a house and a job, for the “gross violation” of her rights.

However, in 2022, the Gujarat government released the 11 convicts on parole under a remission policy that was later found to be outdated and illegal by the Supreme Court. Bilkis Bano and several other petitioners challenged the release of the rapists, saying it was “premature” and “shook the conscience of society”.

The Supreme Court today canceled the parole of the 11 convicts and directed them to surrender within two weeks. The court also asked the Gujarat government to explain why it had not revised its remission policy since 2018, as per the directions of the Union Home Ministry.

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