Bilkis Bano case: The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict today (January 8) on a batch of petitions challenging the premature release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case and the murder of seven of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
A bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan had on October 12, 2023, reserved its verdict after an 11-day hearing on the petitions, including the one filed by Bano.
While reserving the judgement, the apex court had directed the central as well as Gujarat governments to submit original records related to the remission of the sentence of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case by October 16.
Gujarat govt released 11 convicts
The Gujarat government released the 11 convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, on August 15, 2022. All the convicts in the case were released as per the remission policy prevalent in Gujarat at the time of their conviction in 2008.
In addition to Bano’s petition challenging the remission to convicts, a number of other PILs have also challenged the relief, including one from CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, independent journalist Revati Laul, and former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma. TMC MP Mahua Moitra has also filed a PIL against the remission granted to the convicts and their premature release.
Bilkis Bano case
In March 2002 during the Godhra riots, Bano was allegedly gang-raped and left to die with 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. She was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the horror of the communal riots in Vadodara.
Bilkis Bano and others had approached the top court challenging the premature release of 11 convicts. Some PILs were filed seeking directions to revoke the remission granted to 11 convicts. Earlier, the Gujarat government in its affidavit had defended remission granted to convicts saying they completed 14 years of sentence in prison and their “behaviour was found to be good”.