The opposition has blasted Modi government after the Gujarat government revealed in front of the Supreme Court on Monday that the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) had authorised the early release of 11 convicts who had been given life sentences in 2008 for the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of seven of her family members.
Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal said he was “not surprised anymore at what this government does”.
“D Y Chandrachud. Next CJI. Not surprised any more at what this government does: Granting remission to rapist-murderers. Not surprised any more by what the court does: Stays acquittal in a special hearing on a Saturday. Will there be a new dawn when Chandrachud J takes over?” Sibal tweeted.
According to the affidavit submitted by the state government on Monday, remission was granted in August despite protests from the judge of the trial court who found the 11 men accused and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had investigated and brought the case to Mumbai after the Gujarat trial was ordered to be moved outside of Gujarat in 2004. However, the remission order was not given till August 10, after the MHA and the pertinent Gujarat government officials, including the jail advisory council, cleared the way for the release of the 11 rapists.
“SP, CBI Special Crime Branch said no. Special Civil Judge, CBI said no. City Civil&Sessions Court of Mumbai said no. But Gujarat Govt & Union Home Ministry said yes to release the rapists of Bilkis Bano. Shame would be too mild a word to condemn this sickness,” Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi reacted on Twitter.
Shama Mohamed, the national spokeswoman for the Congress, challenges the administration on this matter.
“Gujarat govt’s affidavit shows that SP, CBI, SCB & Special Judge(CBI), Mumbai opposed the remission of #BilkisBano case convicts’ sentence. It was only the BJP govt which pushed for their early release. @narendramodi & @AmitShah will have to answer to the women of India!” Mohamed wrote in a tweet.
When Bano was gangraped while trying to escape the bloodshed during the Gujarat riots in 2002, she was 21 years old, five months pregnant, and one of the seven fatalities was her three-year-old daughter. Bano issued a statement via her attorney in which she said that the most recent event had caused her to lose faith in the administration of justice. She pleaded for the Gujarati government to “undo this harm” and give her back the “right to live without fear and in peace”.