May 26, 2024
Home » BILKIS BANO VS UNION OF INDIA (Bilkis Bano Case): A short summary
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This article has been written by HARDIKA and currently enrolled in B.A.L.L.B. (HONS) Course from the Oxford of East, University of Allahabad.

Petitioner: Bilkis Yakub Rasool
Defendant: Union Of India
Bench: Justice Nagarathna and  Justice Ujjal Bhuyan
Case Number: W.P. (Crl) 491/2022

Table of Contents

Introduction

Plato, the Greek Philosopher in his Treaties, The Laws, underscores that punishment is to be inflicted, not for vengeance, for what is done cannot be undone, but for the sake of prevention and reformation. As we know just like a doctor who doesn’t use the knowledge of drugs and medicines not to increase pain but rather it is to cure pain, this is the same way the theory of curative punishment works where it gives punishments to the offender for the sake of the public. So it is the legal right of every citizen to get justice for their sufferings which will encourage them to live their life with dignity again, and punishing criminals will create deter for others so that shortly these acts should not be repeated.

Case Summary

At the height of the infamous Gujrat Riots in February 2002, Ms. Bilkis Bano and her family fled from their home in Randhipur village. On March 3rd, 2002, they reached Chappawarwad village but were ambushed by an armed mob. Then men gangraped Ms. Bano and, reportedly, murdered seven members of her family including her infant daughter. She approached the local police to file a complaint, but initially, the police refused to lodge her complaint, but after being thrashed by a higher authority the police filed her complaint but they omitted many important details such as the names of the assailants. Then on dec 3,2003 Ms. Bano approached the Supreme Court with the Help of the National Human Rights Commission to investigate her underlying matter, as the Gujrat Government and administration were biased (many important details were removed), so the matter was transferred to the Central Branch Of Investigation (CBI) by the order of Supreme Court, to investigate the allegations of Ms. Bano. The trial initially began in January 2004 at a Trial Court in Ahmedabad. However, the SC Transferred the Case to a special CBI Court in Bombay after Ms. Bano submitted that she was receiving death threats and was concerned that she would not receive a fair trial in Gujrat. In 2008, the Special Court Convicted 13 of the 20 people accused. 11 convicts received life sentences 7 were acquitted for lack of evidence and 2 died while the trial was going on. In 2017, on appeal, the Bombay High Court upheld the Conviction of all the accused in May 2017.

       In March 2022, Mr. Radheshyam Bhagwandas Shah (one of the convicts) approached SC seeking a remission of his sentence which would result in early release of all the convicts. He stated that the Gujrat state Government was obliged to consider his early release as per the state’s 1992 remission policy. State Government may enact remission policies to allow individuals or certain classes of individuals to file applications.

   The State of Gujrat opposed the petition, claiming the Bombay HC convicted Mr. Shah. Hence, the Maharashtra government should make any decisions regarding remission. In May 2022, the Bench comprising Justices A. Rastogi and V. Nath directed the Gujrat government to consider his remission application by the 1992 policy. The Gujrat Government accepted the Remission application for all 11 Convicts on 15th August 2022, during the Independence Day Celebration all the convicts were freed who were sentenced to life. The Gujrat Government asserted that they granted the Early Release based on the 1992 policy and for the good conduct of the convicts during imprisonment. As soon as the convicts were freed widespread agitation and criticism rose to heights, especially among journalists, Civil Society Organizations were protesting for such a blunder by the Gujrat  Government. Critics have noted that the Convicts did not complete even 14 years in jail and were released based on good conduct as the basic requirement for 1992 policy was to complete 14 years imprisonment. Further, 9 of the Convicts reportedly violated their parole and one was charged with molestation while he was out on parole.

    Later that same month, Bilkis Bano and communist Party leader Subhashini  Ali Challenged the Gujrat government decision. Professor Roop Rekha Verma and Journalist Revati Laul were Co-petitioners as well. They claimed that the Gujrat Government’s decision to release 11 convicts at once was ‘premature’ and ‘mechanical’, the remission of the punishment of every individual should be considered individually rather than just in one go all should be released. They further put forward that the Gujrat Government should have consulted the Union before remitting the convict’s sentences as they were convicted by a CBI Special Court, and were investigated and held guilty in Bombay HC, so the Gujrat Government has no clear power to remit the conviction.

The case was heard by a Bench comprising Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna on May 23rd, 2023. The bench served notice to all the parties and listed the case for hearing on April 18th, 2023.

On August 7th,2023, a bench compising Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan started hearing the challenge. On October 12th,2023, the Bench reserved judgment after 11 days of regular hearings and it was held that all the convicts should be sent immediately to jail and their remission is canceled by the Supreme Court Order.


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