“Today, It’s Bilkis, Tomorrow…”: Supreme Court Questions Rapists’ Release
The centre and the Gujarat government are likely to challenge an order by the Supreme Court seeking files on the remission of convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case.
The government, citing “privilege”, has indicated it does not want to produce the documents connected with the remission of sentence of 11 convicts in the case.
Ms Bano, whose seven members of her family were also murdered in the 2002 Gujarat riots, approached the Supreme Court in November last year challenging what she called “premature” release of the 11 convicts by the state government. She said the remission of sentence has “shaken the conscience of society”.
The Supreme Court on March 27 told the Gujarat government and the centre to show the files used in the remission of sentence.
A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna questioned the remission granted to the 11 convicts during their incarceration period and said the gravity of the offence could have been considered by the state.
“A pregnant woman was gang-raped and several people were killed. You cannot compare victim’s case with standard Section 302 (murder of Indian Penal Code) cases. Like you cannot compare apples with oranges, similarly massacre cannot be compared with single murder. Crimes are generally committed against society and the community. Unequals cannot be treated equally,” the Supreme Court said, news agency PTI reported.
“The question is whether the government applied its mind and what material formed the basis of its decision to grant remission,” the Supreme Court said. “Today it is Bilkis but tomorrow it can be anyone. It may be you or me. If you do not show your reasons for grant of remission, then we will draw our own conclusions,” it said.
The Supreme Court will hear a clutch of requests challenging the remission to the convicts on May 2. It ordered all the convicts who have not been served notice to send their replies.
On March 27, the Supreme Court termed the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case and the murder of her family members a “horrendous” act and questioned the Gujarat government whether uniform standards, as followed in other cases of murder, were applied while granting remission to the 11 convicts.
Ms Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed.
Last month, one of the 11 men who is after the remission of his sentence was seen sharing stage with a BJP MP and an MLA at a government programme in Gujarat.