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Why this isn’t the end of the matter

Gujarat riots sufferer Bilkis Bano in tears throughout a information convention in Ahmedabad. On Monday, the 11 convicts within the case had been ordered to give up to jail in two weeks’ time. File picture/PTI

“I have wept tears of relief. I have smiled for the first time in over a year and half. I have hugged my children. It feels like a stone the size of a mountain has been lifted from my chest, and I can breathe again,” mentioned Bilkis Bano on Monday (8 January) after the Supreme Court docket ordered the 11 males, who had been convicted of raping her after which killing her household, to return to jail inside two weeks’ time.

It was a second of reduction for her when a bench of Justice B V Nagarathna and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan of their judgment said that the Gujarat authorities didn’t have the authority or jurisdiction to think about the remission purposes of the convicts and that they must give up to the jail authorities.

However what occurs subsequent to the 11 convicts? Will they be capable of enchantment the Supreme Court docket’s judgment? What awaits them?

Apply for recent remission

The 11 males, who had been convicted within the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang rape case, walked out of jail in August 2022 after the Gujarat authorities granted them remission. Nonetheless, that call has now been struck down by the Supreme Court they usually have been ordered to give up to jail inside two weeks.

Now, these 11 convicts have a couple of choices earlier than them – one in all them being approaching the Maharashtra authorities with request for remission of their sentences. However why Maharashtra, it’s possible you’ll ask? The apex courtroom has held that solely the Maharashtra authorities the place the trial was relocated to Mumbai as a consequence of security considerations, may take into account such requests within the Bilkis Bano case.

Bilkis Banos rapists ordered to return to prison Why this isnt the end of the matter
The Bilkis Bano convicts had been felicitated with sweets on their launch in August 2022. File picture/PTI

And with that now all eyes flip to Maharashtra. Apparently, Maharashtra has its personal remission coverage. In line with the state’s 2008 coverage, the minimal sentence previous to any remission is at the least 18 years.

Nonetheless, the coverage has a separate clause for brutal crimes towards ladies, below which convicts could be eligible for remission solely after serving 28 years in jail. In line with a report in Bar and Bench, it’s this clause that’s almost definitely to use to the 11 convicts on this case. And what this implies is that the lads must be behind bars for at the least one other 12 years – till 2036.

The report by Bar and Bench additional said that even when the state applies the earlier 1992 coverage for the 11 convicts, remission in issues of sexual assault could be potential solely after serving a minimal of twenty-two years and the identical can go as much as 28 years if the case entails distinctive violence or perversity. Which means that the 11 males could be eligible for launch solely after 2030 or 2036 respectively.

A evaluate petition

Nonetheless, this isn’t the one possibility that the 11 convicts have earlier than them. Apart from shifting the Maharashtra authorities for remission, the lads may file a evaluate petition earlier than the Supreme Court docket. Nonetheless, it’s vital to notice that the apex courtroom doesn’t entertain each evaluate petition that’s filed.

It’s much more vital to notice {that a} evaluate petition needs to be filed inside 30 days of the judgment and will likely be heard by the identical bench, which had handed the judgment. Additionally, a evaluate petition will be filed solely on three grounds:

1) Discovery of any new data or proof
2) On account of some mistake or error obvious on the face of the report
3) Some other enough purpose because the Court docket could deem match

Bilkis Banos rapists ordered to return to prison Why this isnt the end of the matter
A girl holds a placard to protest towards the discharge of males convicted of gang-raping Bilkis Bano through the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. File picture/AFP

A glance again on the Bilkis Bano case

On Monday, the Supreme Court docket listening to PILs towards the early launch of the 11 convicts within the Bilkis Bano case quashed the Gujarat authorities’s order, saying the state of Gujarat had “usurped the powers of the state of Maharashtra which only could have considered the applications seeking remission”.

Moreover, the judges mentioned that the convicts had been thought of for an early launch on the idea of the 1992 Gujarat coverage, which couldn’t have been utilized to them.

Reacting to the apex courtroom’s order, Bilkis via a be aware supplied by her advocate mentioned, “This is what justice feels like. I thank the honourable Supreme Court of India for giving me, my children and women everywhere, this vindication and hope in the promise of equal justice for all.”

Bilkis was five-months pregnant in 2002 when she fled from Gujarat’s Randhikpur, her village, together with her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter and 15 different members of the family after the Sabarmati practice was burnt in Godhra. On shifting, she and her household had been attacked by about 20-30 individuals armed with sickles, swords, and sticks.

What adopted was much more heinous; Bilkis, her mom, and three different ladies had been raped and brutally assaulted whereas her three-year-old daughter was among the many seven members of the family who had been killed.

Two years later, in 2004, the accused within the case had been arrested and the trial started in Ahmedabad. Nonetheless, after Bilkis expressed apprehensions that witnesses could possibly be harmed and the proof collected by the CBI tampered with, the apex courtroom transferred the case to Mumbai.

On 21 January 2008, the Particular CBI Court docket sentenced 11 accused to life imprisonment on the fees of conspiring to rape a pregnant girl, homicide and illegal meeting below the Indian Penal Code. The courtroom acquitted seven different accused for lack of proof. One of many accused had died through the trial.

The courtroom held that Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, and Naresh Kumar Mordhiya (deceased) had raped Bilkis, whereas Shailesh Bhatt had killed her daughter, Saleha, by “smashing” her on the bottom. Others who had been convicted are Radheshyam Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Vohania, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Nitesh Bhatt, Ramesh Chandana, and Head Constable Somabhai Gori.

In Could 2017, the Bombay Excessive Court docket had then upheld the life sentences.

With inputs from companies

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