Bilkis Bano Case Summary

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Commence of the riots

Let’s have a deep dissection on the Bilkis Bano case right from the day of attack on her and her family until the latest legal update in her case.

On 27th February 2002, riots broke out in the State of Gujarat after the unfortunate burning of sSabarmari Express at Godhra Railway station.59 Karsevaks lost their lives in the mishap who were returning from benaras after attending the Mahayagya organaised there. According to some investigation teams this mishap could have been accident and according to some it was a deliberate attempts by Muslims to set the train on fire and kill the Karsevaks. As a result Communal riots spread like wildfire in the state.Extremely difficult to control by the state police.Like many Bilkis bano and her family too became a victim of such heart trembling riot.

Bilkis Bano Case Summary – Attack on her and her Family.

Bilkis Bano lived in a village called Randhikpur in Dahod district of Gujarat. Because of the ongoing communal outrage it was soon realized by her family that it is not safe to be in their locality and therefore they fleed from the place. Unfortunately, Bilquis and her family failed in their attempt of saving themselves. On their way they were chased by a huge mob of Hindu Extremists who had stickles and swords in their hands all set to execute them.

The family was caught hold by the mob. Bilkis’s daughter Saleha was snatched from her and bump on the ground so intensely that she could never got up again. Bilkiis, her mother, sister and cousin were brutally gangraped. Other women were killed also but Bilquis survived. Bilquis was 5 months pregnant at the time of attack, had a miscarriage. Other male members were also killed.Out of 17 family members, only 3 of them survived including Bilquis.

Bilkis’s Struggle to get Justice.

After the attack Bilkis went unconscious and could recover senses only after 4-5 hours of the attack. She went to the nearby tribal families and asked them for help.She reached the Limkheda police station and filed a complaint.

In the police station she met with this biast Head constable called Somabhai Gori, who registered her complaint. Gori wanted to protect the monsters of Bilkis. According to the CBI investigations which happened later, it was revealed that Gori, made all attempts to supress material facts and wrote a distorted version of her narration.Despite the brutal crime with her and her family that was even evident by her condition she had to literally struggle to get an F.I.R registered.

Later she was taken to a public hospital, her medical examination was done and then again her medical reports were tampered. Charges were also held against a government doctor, but later he was acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Evidence were being tampered, Bilkis and her husband were getting life threats.Out of 14 members of her family who were killed, 6 of the bodies went missing including Saleha’s body and the remaining 8 bodies were found to have no skull when the CBI unearthed the bodies for investigations.It was done to prevent the identification of the bodies and thereby protect the criminals as claimed by CBI later when the case was handed over to them.

The Case was transferred to Maharashtra by the Supreme Court in 2004.

Bilkis had apprehensions that a fair trial may not be possible in Gujarat. Bilkis’s case shook the nation.It angered the people. National Human Rights Commission took an active role in her case and a petition was filed by bilquis in the Supreme Court to get the case transferred in the another state. As Supreme Court deemed fit the trial was transferred to the neighboring state Maharashtra and case investigation was handed over to CBI in 2004.

Charges were filed against 19 men including 6 police officers and 1 government doctor. Trial started in Mumbai’s Session court.

Finally in 2008, Justice was served to Builkis Bano

On January 21, 2008, a special CBI court judge UD Salvi sentenced 11 accused to life imprisonment on the charges of conspiring to rape a pregnant woman, murder and unlawful assembly under the Indian Penal Code. 12th accused Mordhdiya had died by the time of conviction. The court acquitted remaining seven including police officers and doctor due to lack of evidences against them.

Jayanti Bhai Nai, Gowind Bhai Nai and Naresh Kumar Mordhiya had raped Bilkis while the others raped other women. Shailesh bhatt killed the daughter, Saleha.

The other convicts are Radheshyam Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Vohania, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Nitesh Bhatt, Ramesh Chandana, and Somabhai Gori (the Constable). All 11 were sentenced to life imprisonment and Somabhai Gori (the Constable) was sentenced for 3 years of rigorous imprisonment for not performing his duty and refusing to register Bilkis’s complaint. A fine of 3000 Rs was also imposed on him.

An appeal was made in Bombay High Court against the sentence, but the High court upheld the sentence in May 2017.Bilkis was granted a compensation of 50 lacs by Gujarat State Government on the direction of Supreme Court in 2019.

Bilkis Bano culprits are freed under Remission Policy 1992.

The state governments has a power to suspend or remit punishments by the virtue of section 432 of CrPC. One of the convicts Bhagwandas Radheshyam Shah as entitled by Article 32, moved to the Gujarat High court with the petition that Remission be granted to them by the State Government under 1992 Remission Policy as they have already spent 15years in jail. 1992 policy of Remission is not subject to any conditions that restricts rapists and murderers from walking free unlike the 2014 Remission Policy.

Ahmedabad High Court relied on the Supreme Court’s Judgement in Union of India v/s Sriharan stated that the Maharashtra Government has a right to grant Remission as the case was tried in Maharashtra.In the same case the Supreme Court also stated that the State should mandatorily seek the opinion of the sentencing court’s presiding judge.

The convict, then moved to the Supreme Court in May 22 and filed a petition seeking that, Gujarat Government shall be directed by the Apex Court to look into the matter for their Remission.

It is also claimed that this petition did not contained all information necessary. It was not disclosed in the petition that the rape and murder was related to the Gujrat Riots, 2002.

The Supreme Court has followed its judgment in the State of Haryana versus Jagdish which had held that the policy applicable at the time of conviction must be considered for deciding an application of pre-mature release.

A Bench led by Justice Ajay Rastogi concluded that Gujarat was the “appropriate government” under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to decide the remission of the convicts in the case.

“Undisputedly, in the instant case, the crime was committed in the State of Gujarat which is the appropriate Government competent to examine the application filed for pre-mature release,” the apex court had observed in May.

Supreme Court directed the Gujarat Government to form a commitee of panelist to look into the matter and grant pre-mature release if deem fit.

Most of the members of the committee were connected with BJP. MLA C.K. Raolji and Suman Chauhan of BJP were the members of the committee which was headed by Godhra Collector and District Magistrate Sujal Mayatra.

The committee altogether decided to recommend remission to the convicts who had already spent 14 years in jail since 2008 and the State Government was quick to grant Remission to the convicts on 15th August.

According to an interview given to  The Indian Express the Gujarat Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Raj Kumar said that “the application for remission was considered due to the “completion of 14 years” in jail and other factors such as “age, nature of the crime, behaviour in prison and so on”

Bilkis bano rapists are freed and felicitated, she is fearful about her safety as if she is suppose to be in the jail for her protection now.
Rapists and Murderers are not just freed ,but also celebrated while Bilquis is worried about her safety now.
Why The Remission is Objected?
  1. When the 2014 New Remission Policy is in force then why 1992 policy was adopted?
  2. As per section 432(2)of CrPC, before granting Remission, the opinion of the presiding judge of the sentencing court’s has to be taken. No consultation was made with U D Salvi in this case.
  3. As per section 432(7), Gujarat Government has no power to grat Remission, Maharashtra Government is the appropriate government to grant Remission as the trial was held there.
  4. As per section 435(1)a, that case was not investigated by the state police but by the CBI which act as the Delhi special Police Establishment under Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, therefore the state government cannot grant Remission without the consent currency with the Central Government.
  5. This raises a question that did the prime Minister and the Home minister ratify the Remission of such rapist and murderers. If not approved by them then the Central Government itself should move to the Supreme Court to challenge the Remission. As it is assumed that “Silence ammounts to ratification”.
  6. One more act that is objectionable and has infuriated people is the fact that some people from VHP including the relatives of the convicts felicitated these convicts when they walked free from the Godhra jail.
  7. Last but not the least, how can a civilized society have brutal rapists and murderers walking free?
Remission of 11 convicts Challenged in the Apex Court
Mahua Moitra, the TMC leader has filed a P.I.L in the Supreme Court challenging the release of all 11 convicts on the grounds that CBI who conducted the investigation is a central agency and therefore State Government has no power to grant Remission without concurrence with Central Government.

Mahua has urged the Apex Court to frame guidelines so that the abuse of the policy is prevented and that the nature of the crime should be compulsorily considered before granting Remission.

A petition filed by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, independent journalist and filmmaker Revati Laul and former philosophy professor and activist Roop Rekh Varma.

Bilquis Bano has also appealed the Gujarat Government to quash the order of Remission.She states that she is in a state of numbness and fear due to their release

SC agreed to hear the plea against Remission.

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana told advocate Aparna Bhat and senior advocate Kapil Sibal to file the case records.

Sr Adv Kapil Sibbal was asked by CJI in the court while listing the petition ,whether the Apex Court has faulted in its verdict? To which Sibbal Sir replied, “We are challenging the remission and not the verdict of the Supreme Court” which directed the Gujarat Government to grant Remission. “Fourteen people were killed and a pregnant woman was assaulted”.He tried to explain the gravity of crime and urged for an urgent hearing of the case as per The Hindu.

A special three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath heard the petition on Thursday challenging the remission.

Supreme court issues notice to Gujarat Government

The bench has issued notice to the Gujarat Government to respond to the plea of the petitioners and directed the petitioners to implead those who have been granted remission as parties in the matter. The bench shall further hear the matter after two weeks.

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