SC quashes remission granted to 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday quashed the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission to 11 convicts in the case of gangrape of Bilkis Bano and murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 riots in the state.

Holding the PIL challenging the remission as maintainable, a bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan said the Gujarat government was not the appropriate government to pass the remission order.

Bilkis Bano was 21-years-old and five months pregnant when she was raped while fleeing the horror of the communal riots that broke out after the Godhra train-burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed in the riots.

The Supreme Court also pulled up the Gujarat government for passing remission orders in August 2022 in a cyclostyled manner, with no application of mind.

“Gujarat government did not have jurisdiction to decide the remission since the appropriate government to consider remission was the state where the trial took place,” the apex court said.

The top court holds its May 13, 2022 order of another bench on remission of convicts was obtained by playing ‘fraud on court’.

Bilkis Bano had filed a petition challenging the remission granted to convicts. Besides the petition filed by Bano, several other PILs, including one by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, independent journalist Revati Laul and former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma, have challenged the relief.

TMC leader Mahua Moitra has also filed a PIL against the remission and their premature release.