Bilkis Bano survived the 2002 Gujarat riots, facing violence and her family's rape. In 2017, the Indian Supreme Court ordered compensation and action against negligent police officers in her pursuit of justice.
The remission of Bilkis Bano's case, marred by the exceptional brutality she endured in 2002, highlights not only the heinous nature of the crime but also the systemic failures that followed.
Chronicle of Injustice:
March 3, 2002: Tragedy Strikes
- Eleven individuals commit a horrific crime against Bilkis Bano, leaving scars that go beyond physical wounds. Her three-year-old daughter is among the seven family members killed in the gruesome incident.
December 3, 2003: SC Orders CBI Investigation
- The Supreme Court orders a CBI inquiry into Bilkis Bano's case, acknowledging the need for an unbiased investigation into the atrocities.
August 2004: Trial Shifts to Mumbai
- In a move to ensure impartiality, the Supreme Court transfers the trial from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, distancing it from local influences.
January 21, 2008: Justice Served
- A CBI court in Mumbai awards life imprisonment to 11 men involved in the crime, offering a glimpse of justice after years of legal battles.
May 13, 2022: Premature Release Consideration
- The Supreme Court directs the Gujarat government to contemplate premature release for the convicts in adherence to the state policy of July 1992.
April 23, 2019: Relief for Bilkis Bano
- Bilkis Bano is granted a relief amount of ₹50 lakh as a form of compensation for the immense trauma she endured.
August 15, 2022: Convicts Released
- Gujarat government releases the 11 convicts based on remission, marking a disturbing celebration captured in a photo where they were seen distributing sweets.
Public Outcry and Legal Reckoning:
August 25, 2022: PIL Against Premature Release
- Former MP Subhashree Ali files a PIL against the premature release, emphasizing the need for accountability and justice.
January 2023: SC Questions Remission
- The Supreme Court questions the remission granted to the 11 convicts and directs them to surrender within two weeks.
August 7, 2023: SC Hearing on Plea Against Remission
- As the legal battle intensifies, the Supreme Court conducts a hearing on the plea against the remission, acknowledging the gravity of the situation.
March 27, 2023: SC Issues Notice
- The Supreme Court issues notice to the Centre and Gujarat on Bilkis Bano's petition challenging the Gujarat government's decision on the remission.
Unchecked Discretion in Legal Cases:- Worries about unchecked discretion in ongoing legal cases, suggesting potential lapses in scrutiny and adherence to established norms.
Judicial Review Standards:- Sudhakar's case (2006) establishes clear standards for judicial review, focusing on non-application of mind, malafied orders, irrelevant considerations, or arbitrary decisions.
Lack of Reasons and Limited Challenge Scope:- Decisions without transparent reasoning limit legal challenges, emphasizing the need for comprehensive reasons to assess decision-makers' considerations.
Uniformity Concerns in Orders and State Policies:- Concerns in cases like Bilqis Bano, with identical orders for multiple convicts, highlight uniformity issues. Diverse state remission policies complicate efforts to establish a consistent and fair national framework, requiring closer examination of standardization.
"Today is truly a new year for me. I've welled up with tears of relief, smiled for the first time in over a year and a half, hugged my children. It feels like a stone the size of a mountain has been lifted from my chest, and I can breathe again."
– Bilkis Bano.
Bilkis Bano's case is a poignant reminder of the need for a robust legal system that ensures justice is not compromised. As the legal battle continues, the nation watches, hoping for a resolution that upholds the principles of justice and fairness.
The remission, once celebrated, is now under scrutiny, and the journey towards redemption for Bilkis Bano remains an ongoing struggle against exceptionalism and systemic failures.
Edited by: Matsoarelo Makuke
Photo source: Youth of India
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