Case Title – Bilkis Yakub Rasool v. Union of India & Ors.

Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 491 of 2022

On Monday, January 8, the Supreme Court emphasised that in upholding the rule of law, individuals involved must continue to be indifferent to the fallout from their actions, even as they overturned the remission awarded to the guilty in the Bilkis Bano case. It also unequivocally declared that when the rule of law must be upheld, empathy and pity have no place. The Gujarat government’s decision to release 11 prisoners in the Bilkis Bano case was overturned by the Supreme Court, which held that the state government lacked the authority to consider the convicts’ request for release.

Accusing the Gujarat government of abusing its power, the Supreme Court said that the remission order was without “application of mind”.

The Gujarat government’s decision to provide remission to 11 prisoners connected to the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and the killing of seven of her family members during the 2002 riots in the state was overturned by the Supreme Court on Monday.

The Gujarat government lacked the jurisdiction to make the remission decision, according to the bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan, which also determined that the PIL contesting the remission was admissible.

Twenty-one-year-old Bilkis Bano, who was five months pregnant at the time, was sexually assaulted as she fled the chaos of the communal riots that followed the Godhra train fire. One of the seven family members who perished in the riots was her three-year-old daughter.

The Gujarat government had given remission to all 11 of the offenders, and on August 15, 2022, they were freed.

Here is what the court said in its judgement :

πŸ”΄The Supreme Court declared that false information and deceit were used to obtain its May 2022 order, which asked the Gujarat government to decide on remission in accordance with the 1992 policy.

πŸ”΄ The Gujarat Government was not the proper government, thus the court questioned why it had not submitted an application to have the May 13, 2022, order reviewed.

πŸ”΄ According to the court, this was a textbook instance of the SC’s ruling being utilised to pass remission orders in violation of the law.

πŸ”΄ The Gujarat government was ruled by the Supreme Court to be unfit to hear the remission plea or to provide remission orders in the Bilkis case since it was not the proper government to do so.

πŸ”΄ The Court ruled that the state where the accused were convicted, not the state whose borders the offence happened or where the accused were detained, has the jurisdiction to decide on remission.

πŸ”΄ The Gujarat government was also criticised by the top court for granting remission orders to guilty parties without giving careful consideration to the rape and family murder case of Bilkis Bano.

πŸ”΄ The Gujarat government stole the Maharashtra government’s authority to issue remission orders, according to the court. As a result, it annulled the remission orders, citing the Gujarat government’s usurpation and misuse of authority.

πŸ”΄ In addition, the court denied the prisoners’ request for a prayer protecting their freedom and ordered them to report to the jail administration in two weeks.

πŸ”΄Β  The SC ruled that because Bilkis had already filed a sufficient Article 32 plea, the public interest lawsuits (PILs) opposing the early release of guilty parties in the case may be maintained.

Adv.Khanak Sharma

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