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Supreme Court Halts Gujarat’s Move: Bilkis Banu Case Unveils Legal Maze

Recent Ruling Sparks Debate on Justice, Jurisdiction, and Societal Responsibility

The Gujarat government faced a setback in the Bilkis Banu gang rape case. The Supreme Court canceled Gujarat’s decision to release the accused based on the victim’s appeal. And it sets off a legal discussion highlighting the complex aspects of justice and jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court clarified that appeals against the convicts whose sentences had been reduced are valid. It stressed that the Maharashtra government has the authority to decide the fate of the accused. As the case moved from Gujarat to Maharashtra, the legal responsibility shifted entirely to the Maharashtra government regarding whether to release the accused.

Justices B.V. Nagaratna and Ujjwal Bhuyan, leading the court, made it clear that Gujarat shouldn’t have a say in releasing the accused. This crucial decision resulted from petitions challenging Gujarat’s move to release 11 individuals earlier sentenced to life imprisonment in the Bilkis Banu case.

The court’s reasoning highlighted two key purposes of punishment: reforming the accused and ensuring justice for the victim. It emphasized the crucial need to safeguard the rights and justice of women. And it is regardless of their caste, emphasizing broader societal responsibility.

The legal background traces back to the release of convicts under the leniency of the 1992 policy by the Gujarat government. It forced Bilkis Banu, CPM leader Subhashini Ali, and TMC leader Mahua Moitra to move an appel in the Supreme Court. The court’s scrutiny focused on Gujarat’s actions and their impact on the victims.

Bilkis Banu, a Gujarat riot survivor, had terrifying experiences when delving into the case’s legal nuances. She was pregnant when raped at age 21 and when forced to flee with her family. Banu lost seven relatives, including a three-year-old child, in the riot. In 2008, the trial was shifted from Gujarat to Mumbai, where 11 people were found guilty and sentenced to life in jail.

In 2017, the Bombay High Court affirmed the convictions. However, the legal landscape shifted drastically in 2022 when the 11 convicts were released on August 15. Bilkis Banu, central to the legal discussion, expressed her lack of information on the sentence commutation and strongly opposed the release of perpetrators.

Petitioners highlighted procedural lapses, stressing the failure to seek the Mumbai court judge’s opinion. And also pointed out the absence of central government approval, considering the CBI’s involvement in the case.

At the core of the matter is Gujarat’s adherence to the 1992 leniency policy, which was later amended. Petitioners argued that despite the change in the law, the accused were wrongly released.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s intervention emphasized jurisdictional complexities and revived a discussion on justice, proper procedures, and societal responsibility. The Bilkis Banu case, symbolizing resilience and the pursuit of justice, is a poignant legal saga impacting the nation’s legal discourse.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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