The Opposition has attacked the Centre after the Gujarat government disclosed before the Supreme Court on Monday that the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) had approved the early release of 11 convicts sentenced to life in 2008 for the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and 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 rapists-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.

The affidavit submitted by the state government on Monday revealed that remission was granted in August despite objections from the trial court judge who convicted the 11 men, and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which investigated and prosecuted the case in Mumbai following the 2004 apex court order of shifting the trial outside Gujarat. However, after the MHA and the relevant authorities in the Gujarat government, including the jail advisory committee, cleared the decks for the release of 11 convicts, the remission order was issued on August 10.

“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 rapists of Bilkis Bano. Shame would be too mild a word to condemn this sickness,” Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi reacted on Twitter.

Priyanka Chaturvedi on Twitter.
Priyanka Chaturvedi on Twitter.

Congress national spokesperson Shama Mohamed also question the government over the issue.

“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 on the micro-blogging site.

Bano was 21 years old and five months’ pregnant when she was gangraped while fleeing the violence during the 2002 Gujarat riots, and her three-year-old daughter was one of the seven people killed. Two days after the release of the convicts, Bano released a statement through her lawyer, saying the latest development has shaken her faith in justice. She urged the Gujarat government to “undo this harm” and give her back the “right to live without fear and in peace”.

By Shadab

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