Bilkis Bano Case Verdict: Supreme Court Reverses Controversial Remission

Bilkis Bano Case

The Supreme Court of India has overturned the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission to 11 convicts involved in the Bilkis Bano Case of gang rape and murder case. The court, led by Justice B.V. Nagarathna, declared that the State of Gujarat lacked the authority to pass remission orders, directing all 11 convicts to surrender to jail authorities within two weeks.

The verdict comes as a response to the controversial order passed by the Gujarat government in August 2022, leading to the premature release of the convicts. Bilkis Bano, a survivor of the heinous crime committed during the 2002 Gujarat communal riots, had filed a petition challenging the remission granted to the convicts.

The Supreme Court, in its latest ruling, emphasized that the appropriate government to consider remission was the state where the trial took place, which, in this case, was Maharashtra, not Gujarat. The bench criticized the Gujarat government for its hasty and stereotyped remission orders, highlighting a lack of application of mind.

The decision also reverberates against the backdrop of the 2002 Gujarat riots, triggered by the Sabarmati Express massacre. The communal violence claimed numerous lives, with unofficial estimates suggesting over 2,000 deaths, predominantly among the Muslim community.

The legal proceedings surrounding the Bilkis Bano case witnessed a series of events, including the Gujarat government’s controversial remission order in 2022, sparking widespread public outrage. The Supreme Court, led by Justice Nagarathna, has now rectified this, emphasizing the importance of upholding the rule of law.

Additionally, the court criticized the earlier remission order, stating that it was obtained by playing a ‘fraud on the court.’ Various PILs, including the one filed by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali and TMC leader Mahua Moitra, challenged the remission and the premature release of the convicts.

The complex legal proceedings involved conflicting jurisdiction claims between Gujarat and Maharashtra, with the court ultimately asserting Maharashtra as the ‘appropriate government.’ The decision underscores the significance of ensuring that the legal process aligns with established norms and precedents.

This verdict serves as a landmark moment in the pursuit of justice for Bilkis Bano, who was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she endured the brutal gang rape and witnessed the murder of her family members during the 2002 riots. The court’s directive for the convicts to surrender within two weeks signifies a crucial step towards rectifying the legal irregularities surrounding their release.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s also quashing of the remission order is a pivotal development in the Bilkis Bano case, emphasizing the need for legal proceedings to adhere to jurisdictional norms and the rule of law.

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