NEW DELHI — Supreme Court on Monday quashed the remission of 11 convicts in the Bikis Bano gangrape case and the murder of her family members, by the Gujarat government.
It stated that it was not under the territory of Gujarat that the sentence was passed and the accused were convicted. The convicts will have to surrender within two weeks.
The bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan said that the trial was transferred to the state of Maharashtra from Gujarat and it makes the Maharashtra government as the “appropriate government”.
This reverses the order passed by the Gujarat government.
“Here appropriate government means that the government under whose jurisdiction the sentence order has been passed and the accused were convicted,” it said.
During the judgement, the SC also held the please by Bilkis Bano maintainable. “We have held it is clearly maintainable,” the bench said.
The top court also held as “nullity” its May 13, 2022 order of another bench asking the Gujarat government to consider remission plea of convicts as it was obtained by “playing fraud on the court” and by suppressing material facts.
It said this is a classic case where the order of this court was used to violate the rule of law by granting remission.
The top court said Rule of law has been breached by usurpation of power and May 13, 2022 order has been used to usurp the powers and abuse the process of law.
“We strike down the remission orders on the ground of usurpation of power by Gujarat government,” the bench said.
Bilkis Bano was gang-raped while she was fleeing the horrors of the 2002 Gujarat riots that broke out after the Godhra train-burning incident. Bilkis was 21 years old and five months pregnant at the time. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed in the riots.
All 11 convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government and released on Independence Day in 2022. The Gujarat government stated that they had allowed the remission of the convicts based on the 1992 policy. The remission was approved by the Centre.
The Gujarat government stated that the convicts were released after they completed 14 years of sentence in prison, and their “behaviour was found to be good”. — (Agencies)