‘No justification’: Devendra Fadnavis criticizes Bilkis Bano convicts’ felicitation

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Devendra Fadnavis said, “It was wrong if a person accused of a crime is ‘felicitated’ and there can be no justification for such an act”

Devendra Fadnavis criticizes Bilkis Bano convicts' felicitation
Fadnavis, who is also the home minister, said there was no reason to raise the Bilkis Bano 
issue in the House. (PTI/File)

Mumbai: Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra and a member of the BJP, has harshly criticized the lavish welcome given to the 11 men who were found guilty of raping Bilkis Bano after their release from prison.

On July 4, the Gujarat government freed the guys in accordance with an outdated remission policy. Outrage was sparked by widely shared videos showing them being welcomed by a right-wing group with sweets and garlands.

Devendra Fadnavis stated that “an accused is an accused and there can be no reason for their felicitation.”

Mr. Fadnavis responded to a debate in the Maharashtra Legislative Council over an incident in the Bhandara district, where a 35-year-old lady was allegedly sexually assaulted by three people, saying there was no justification for raising the Bilkis Bano issue in the House.

“An order from the Supreme Court resulted in the release of the accused in the Gujarat Bilkis Bano case from 2002. However, it is improper and cannot be justified to felicitate someone who has been accused of a crime, “added Mr. Fadnavis.

The recommendation was based on the 1992 Gujarat government’s remission policy, which, in contrast to later state and center policies, did not place limitations on the early release of those convicted of rape or given life sentences.

According to the Union Home Ministry’s recommendations for a special remission policy, which was released in June, people who have been given life sentences or who have been found guilty of rape should not be eligible for remission under the policy.

The Supreme Court had given the state the authority to decide whether to provide remission after one of the prisoners had gone to the court and asked for it.

A Mumbai special court sentenced the defendants to life in prison. Later, the Bombay High Court upheld the judgment.

After the attack on the Sabarmati Express in Godhra, which resulted in the deaths of 59 “kar sewaks,” rioting erupted throughout the state in March 2002, and Bilkis Bano, who was five months pregnant, was gang-raped in Gujarat’s Dahod. Her three-year-old daughter was one of the seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family that were slain.

The Supreme Court decided to list a plea that contests the remission yesterday. Three petitions were filed in the matter by the CPM Politburo member Subhashini Ali, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, and one other.

The judge for the special court who found the men guilty, however, told NDTV that the decision for remission needed to be re-examined.

“The government has the authority to grant remission, but before doing so, it must carefully consider all relevant factors; otherwise, the decision will be improper. I’m not sure if they followed the process or not, “said Justice UD Salvi, a former Bombay High Court judge.

“Did they question the jurist who presided over the case? I can confirm that I haven’t heard anything about this. In such circumstances, the national government must also provide advice to the state government. Did they carry it out? I am clueless. What was the central government’s response, if they did? “he asked.

What is the Bilkis Bano case?

Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was sexually assaulted on March 3, 2002, in Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad, while fleeing the violence that erupted in the aftermath of the Sabarmati train incident in Godhra. During the anti-Muslim riots, her three children were also killed.

The trial in Bano’s case began in Ahmedabad at first. When Bano expressed concern about witnesses being harmed, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

A special court convicted and sentenced 11 men to life imprisonment for the incident on January 21, 2008. It , however, discharged seven people, including the police officers and two doctors accused of tampering with evidence.

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