New Delhi: Telangana MLC K Kavitha on Friday wrote a letter to Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana urging the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter of the release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano rape case under the remission policy of the Gujarat government.
The Gujarat government released the 11 convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, on August 15. “I am writing to you with a heavy heart regarding the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 Gujarat riots where the Gujarat government released 11 convicts, relying on a 1992 policy following the direction of the Supreme Court, while the State government’s revised policy of 2014 would have made them ineligible for remission,” Kavitha wrote.
The TRS leader highlighted relevant technical and legal points and pointed out that the case was investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and it was the Special CBI Court that sentenced the convicts.
“Section 435 (1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code states that the power of the state government to remit or commute a sentence in any case which was investigated by the CBI shall not be exercised by the state government, except after consultation with the central government. Whether the release of the 11 convicts, in this case, was done in consultation with the Central Government is unclear,” she wrote.
She pointed out that “it has to be taken into consideration that the 1992 policy was substituted by the 2014 policy to align the remission policy of the state government with the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated November 20, 2012, in criminal appeal no. 490-491 of 2011, where the Supreme Court observed that the remission powers of the appropriate government should not be exercised arbitrarily and should be exercised with some inherent procedural and substantive checks on the said power.”
Raising questions over the procedure behind the release of the convicts, she said that it is not clear “whether the aforesaid procedural and substantive checks were taken into account while releasing the 11 convicts.”
Earlier on Thursday, K Kavitha sought Supreme Court’s intervention and slammed the Gujarat government’s decision to grant remission to 11 convicts in the case related to Bilkis Bano’s gang-rape and murder of her kin during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
She tweeted, “The decision to release the heinous criminals of rape and murder during the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an insult to this auspicious day. The central government itself has sent the guidelines to the state governments in June 2022 that rapists and convicts facing life imprisonment are not eligible for pardon #BilkisBano.”
Terming the decision a “shameful verdict”, the Telangana MLC said, “The BJP government of Gujarat has encouraged the barbaric idea by pardoning the rapists of Bilkis Bano who was five months pregnant and the killers of her three-year-old girl. It is against the spirit of law and justice and completely against humanity.”
All the 11 life-term convicts in the case were released as per the remission policy prevalent in Gujarat at the time of their conviction in 2008.
In March 2002 during the post-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 five months pregnant when rioters attacked her family in Vadodara.