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By Sharvari Sutaone

We all remember the spine shivering case of Bilkis Bano, don’t we? Shocking news was that the 11 convicts accused of gang raping her, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, were released prematurely. Now Bilkis Bano has filed a plea in the Supreme Court regarding this premature release of the convicts.

Bilkis in her plea said that the SC bench headed by Justice Rastogi blundered in the judgement that Gujarat was the right government to grant remission, but the state under whose jurisdiction the trial takes place is considered to be the right authority, and in this case it was Maharashtra since the trials had taken place in Mumbai. She further stated that the Gujarat state government did not confer with her regarding granting of remission to the convicts, thus not giving her the chance to question the verdict of the Supreme Court. Moreover, the Gujarat government hid the fact that the remission bid was opposed by the trial court judge in Mumbai as well as the CBI.

In 2019, the Supreme Court directed the Gujarat government to give Rs. 50 lakh as compensation to her. She had refused to accept the compensation of Rs. 5 lakh and had sought exemplary compensation from the state government in a plea before the Supreme Court. Simultaneously, a review petition was filed against the judgement which allowed Gujarat government to settle on remission. The 11 men were released from the Godhra sub jail on August 15 after a remission application was submitted. The state exercising its power under the 1992 Rules remitted the life imprisonment of all the convicts on the view that that they spent more than 14 years in jail. Due to this premature release of her wrongdoers, she has moved Supreme Court.

Bilkis Bano was 5 months pregnant during the Godhra train burning incident which was followed by a brutal communal violence all over Gujarat in 2002. 11 men brutally gang raped her and murdered seven members of her family.

Bilkis in her plea explained the incident as “one of the most gruesome and heinous crime of multiple gang rape of a five-month pregnant woman (Bilkis), gang rape and murder of her mother, gang rape and murder of her cousin who was weak after child birth two days ago, brutal murder of eight minors, including a two-day-old girl child of her cousin, her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter (her first child) by smashing her head on a rock, her two minor brothers and sisters, other relatives – her ‘phupha’, ‘phuphi’, ‘mama’, three cousin sisters.”

Bilkis said she had survived “only because she became unconscious from the sexual assault and the accused (now prematurely released convicted prisoners) took her as dead.”

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