Bilkis Bano, a woman who fought so bravely to seek justice, had managed to get some semblance of justice from the courts. Bilkis and her family were ruthlessly attacked by a mob on March 3, 2002, while they were fleeing their village in Limkheda taluka in Dahood district. The CBI special Court convicted 11 men who had gang raped her and who also brutally killed Bilkis’s three-year-old child and 13 others. The legal policy of remission or suspension and commutation of sentence being invoked in freeing such dangerous inhumane convicts has defeated the decade-long struggle of Biklis in seeking justice. Furthermore, using this statutory provision in such cases is itself desecration of the object, purpose and essence of law.
The irony is that all the convicts were freed on Independence Day when PM Modi was sermonising about empowerment and emancipation of women from the ramparts of the Red Fort. He stated that “can we not pledge to get rid of everything in our behavior, culture and everyday life that humiliates and demeans women?” The act of by the Gujarat Government of remitting the sentence has exposed the said speech of PM Modi and revealed that India has failed its women completely.
The issue needs consideration without any delay, since the crime was so devastating that it shook the conscience of the whole country and at international level as well. The legal provision is clear that such rarest of rare cases shouldn’t be brought under its purview because such monsters don’t deserve a place in civilised societies.
The concerning matter is that human rights defenders like Teesta Setelvad, RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhat, who raised their voices against the human rights violations during Gujarat Riots of 2002, are languishing in jails and those who have been convicted of heinous crimes have been freed. It signals that there is complete hijacking of the judicial system and abuse of rule of law is at an all-time high.
The Supreme Court must step in and should do its duty of revoking the said remission. It must make this case a precedent for the rest of the judiciary of India. The Supreme Court is well aware of the adverse impact it would have if such remission policy is used in such convictions.