WHAT HAPPENED TO WHY GUJRAT HIGH COURT RELEASED THE ACCUSED OF BILKIS BANO GANG RAPE, FROM LIFE IMPRISONMENT?
Eleven men who were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case of 2002 were released from Godhra sub-jail on Monday ( August 15 ) after a panel set up by the Gujarat government approved their application for remission of the sentence. Bilkis was brutally gang-raped during the communal violence that followed the Godhra train-burning incident. She was 21 years old at the time, and five months pregnant. Seven members of her family were killed by rioters.
WHAT HAPPENED WITH BILKIS BANO IN 2002 ? (WHAT IS BILKIS BANO GANG RAPE CASE)
On February 28, 2002, Bilkis fled her village, Radhikpur in Dahod district, after violence erupted in the state in the aftermath of the previous day’s incident at Godhra station, In which the Sabarmati Express was set on fire, resulting in the deaths of dozens of pilgrims and Kar sewaks returning from Ayodhya. Bilkis was accompanied by her daughter Saleha, who was three and a half years old at the time, and 15 other members of her family. They fled fearing a re-run of the arson and looting that had taken place in their village on the condition of Baker Id a few days previously.
On March 3, 2002, the family reached Chapparwad village, According to the charge sheet , they were attacked by about 20-30 people armed with sickles, swords, and sticks. Among the attackers were the 11 accused men . Bilkis, her mother , and three other women were raped and brutally assaulted . Of the 17 – member group of Muslims from Radhikpur village, eight were found dead , six were missing . Only Bilkis , a man , and a three-year-old survived the attack .
Bilkis remained unconscious for at least three hours after the attack . After she regained consciousness , she borrowed clothes from an Adivasi woman , and met a Home Guard who took her to the Limkheda police station . She registered a complaint with Head Constable Somabhai Gori who , according to the CBI , ” suppressed material facts and wrote a distorted and truncated version ” of her complaint .
Bilkis was taken to a public hospital for medical examination only after she reached the Godhra relief camp . Her case was taken up by the National Human Rights Commission ( NHRC ) and Supreme Court , which ordered an investigation of the Bilkis Gang Rpae Case by the CBI.
WHAT CBI SAID?
The CBI concluded that the post-mortem examination was carried out shoddily in order to protect the accused . CBI investigators exhumed the bodies of those killed in the attack , and said that none of the seven bodies had skulls . According to the CBI , the heads of the corpses had been severed after the autopsy , so that the bodies could not be identified .
CONVICTION OF BILKIS BANO GANG RAPE CASE
The trial was moved out of Gujarat to Maharashtra after Bilkis Bano received death threats . In January 2008 , a special court convicted 11 accused of conspiring to rape a pregnant woman , murder , unlawful assembly , and of charges under other sections of the Indian Penal Code . Seven persons were acquitted by the court , citing lack of evidence . One person died during the course of the trial . All 11 convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment by the court .
In April 2019 , the Supreme Court directed the Gujarat government to give Rs 50 lakh as compensation to Bilkis within two weeks . She had refused to accept the compensation of Rs 5 lakh and had sought exemplary compensation from the state government in a plea before the top court.
LAW ON REMISSIONS
Under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution , the President and Governors have the power to pardon , and to suspend, remit, or commute a sentence passed by the courts . Also , since prisons is a state subject , state governments have powers under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure ( CrPC ) to remit sentences .
However , Section 433A of the CrPC puts certain restrictions on these powers of remission : ” Where a sentence of imprisonment for life is imposed on conviction of a person for an offence for which death is one of the punishments provided by law , or where a sentence of death imposed on a person has been commuted under Section 433 into one of imprisonment for life , such person shall not be released from prison unless he had served at least fourteen years of imprisonment . “
Prisoners are often released on the birth and death anniversaries of prominent leaders and other important occasions . For example , to mark the 76th Independence Day , the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines to states to grant special remission for prisoners who have completed at least half their sentence – Women and transgender prisoners above the age of 50 , male convicts above the age of 60 , and terminally ill convicts , among others .
WHAT HAPPENED IN BILKIS BANO GANG RAPE CASE ?
Bilkis Bano case convict Radheshyam Shah moved the Supreme Court this year after he had completed 15 years and four months of his life term awarded by a CBI court in Mumbai . In an order dated May 13, 2022, a Bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath asked the Gujarat government to consider Shah’s application for premature release ” within a period of two months ” , as per the state’s 1992 remission policy .
Additional Chief Secretary ( Home ) Raj Kumar told that the 1992 policy , under which the convict ( Shah ) had sought remission , did not have the restrictions that were prescribed in the 2014 policy.
Advocate Shobha Gupta , who represented Bilkis Bano at the Supreme Court earlier, said that the legal remedy available to Bilkis now would be to challenge , The government’s order allowing early release of the 11 convicts, either in the High Court or in the Supreme Court . ” It can be challenged like any other government order, seeking that the government order be quashed and set aside . However, it is up to her ( Bilkis ) on whether she wants to exercise this remedy , ” Gupta told .
Q. The pardoning power given to the President of India under Article 72 can be exercised?
A ) Only on the sentence of conviction
B ) At any time before , during or after the trial
C ) During or after trial but never before trial
D ) Either before or after but never during the trial