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Explainer: What made Bilkis Bano gang rape convicts release from jail by Gujarat government?

On March 3, 2002, the family of Bilkis Bano was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district during the post-Godhra riots.





New Delhi: When 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case were allowed to walk free of the prison following Gujarat government’s orders, a massive outrage erupted. Reportedly, the accused who was given life imprisonment were released as per the remission policy in India.

The 11 accused were found guilty of the heinous gang rape and multiple murder cases that happened during the 2002 Gujarat riots. However, they were released from prison after serving a little over 14 years of their life imprisonment sentence, initiating criticism against the Gujarat government by opposition leaders. 

On March 3, 2002, the family of Bilkis Bano was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district during the post-Godhra riots. Moreover, Bilkis who was five months pregnant at that time was gang raped and seven members of her family were killed.

Outrage over release of Bilkis Bano gang rape accused

After the release of the accused of Bilkis Bano gang rape case by the Gujarat government, apart from the family of Bilkis Bano, the opposition leaders and the legal fraternity slammed the decision of the government, terming the decision as “shameful” and “disgraceful.”

TRS leader K Kavitha, taking a jibe at the Centre stated, “The decision to release the heinous criminals of rape and murder during the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an insult to this auspicious day.”

Also talking about the flight of Bilkis Bano, Supreme Court Advocate Yash Giri said, “The trust of people in the Indian Judicial System is shaken by the new Remission policy of the Gujarat Government, the trauma of the victim cannot be superseded by the right of remission given to the convicts in heinous offences of rape and murder.”

Why were Bilkis Bano rapists released from jail?

After being imprisoned in jail for years, one of the convicts related to the case filed a plea in front of the court, urging the administration for premature release. Reportedly, the application filed for remission was considered after all the accused completed 14 years of imprisonment, keeping in mind age, nature of the crime, behaviour in prison. 

What is remission law in India?

As per Indian laws, remission means that the tenure of the imprisonment sentence announced by the court can be cut short under special circumstances. However, the nature of the sentence will remain the same, depending upon the nature of the crime.

The Constitution of India states that certain constitutional authorities in the country have the power to remit, suspend or grand pardon some specific sentences under special circumstances. Moreover, Article 72 gives authority to the President to remit a sentence, CrPC Section 433 provides the appropriate power to the government to suspend or remit sentences.

This section of the Indian laws states that the remission application can be placed forth before the appropriate government, which can be further taken a call on the sentence of the person. However, the government later have to present its argument for granting remission in front of the court, seeking the bench’s final approval.