Bilkis Bano Case Wikipedia

When Bilkis Bano was 21 years old, her life was shattered when she was brutally gang raped while fleeing violent riots in Gujarat. Nearly her entire family was murdered in front of her eyes. Yet through 20 years of intimidation and trauma, Bilkis persevered in her quest for justice. Her story is one of immense courage in the face of unimaginable horrors that still haunts India today. In August 2022, her rapists and murderers were suddenly released by the Gujarat government, sparking outrage across the country. Bilkis Bano once again bravely challenged the controversial remission of their life sentences in the Supreme Court, in a case that has become symbolic of the broken justice system for gender crimes and religious divisions still plaguing society. Dubbed the “Bilkis Bano Case Wikipedia” due to the global attention it has garnered, this long legal battle raises critical questions about women’s rights, abuse of power and politicization of justice in India. Following !

Bilkis Bano Case Wikipedia
Bilkis Bano Case Wikipedia

I. Who is Bilkis Bano?

Bilkis Bano was a 21-year-old pregnant Muslim woman living in the village of Randhikpur in the Dahod district of Gujarat when violent riots broke out after the Godhra train burning incident in February 2002. On March 3rd, she was fleeing the violence with her entire extended family when a mob of 20-30 people armed with sickles, swords and sticks attacked them.

The pregnant Bilkis was gang raped by multiple men while several members of her family, including her 3-year-old daughter, were killed. After the brutal attack, she managed to hide in the forests before being rescued by the police and shifting to a relief camp. The horrific violence she endured resulted in the loss of 14 family members.

II. What happened in the Bilkis Bano case?

The trial for Bilkis Bano’s gruesome gang rape and the murder of her family members was plagued by delays, witness intimidation and the accused policemen evading arrest.

The Supreme Court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the case in December 2003 considering the extensive cover-up attempts. The case was also shifted from Gujarat to Mumbai due to concerns over witness safety and the impartiality of investigators under the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.

On January 21, 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai convicted 11 men along with five police officials and one doctor on charges of conspiring to rape Bilkis and murder her family members.

The court sentenced the 11 convicts to life imprisonment while the policemen and doctors were given imprisonment of 3 to 5 years for falsifying evidence and autopsy reports to protect the perpetrators.

In August 2022, all the 11 convicted men were prematurely released after the Gujarat government allowed their remission under its 1992 remission policy. Their release on India’s Independence Day sparked protests across the country.

Bilkis Bano filed a plea in the Supreme Court challenging the remission of the convicts by the Gujarat government. Hearing her plea seeking to overturn the controversial order, the SC delivered its verdict on October 31, 2022.

III. Why did the Bilkis Bano case become trending?

The grant of remission to Bilkis Bano’s rapists and release from life sentence on August 15, 2022 resulted in outrage across India. Widespread protests highlighted how the decision amounted to denying justice and closure to Bilkis who displayed immense courage in fighting for over 16 years.

The Gujarat government’s move was seen as a political decision taken without any legal basis or consultation with the victim. It brought into focus issues like rights of rape survivors and religious divisions still plaguing society.

Many questioned the morality and ethics of the BJP-led state dispensation for allowing criminals convicted of heinous crimes to walk free based on vague remission policies. There were also calls for reforms in existing legal frameworks guiding remission and parole in India to prevent such miscarriage of justice.

The case became a symbol of the struggles faced by women victims of sexual violence in India seeking accountability and retribution against extremely powerful odds. For Bilkis, the release of the convicts reopened her painful wounds even as she showed steely resolve once again to fight for her rights.

IV. Supreme Court Verdict on Bilkis Bano Case Remission

On October 31st, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela Trivedi delivered an important verdict overturning Gujarat’s remission order. Some key points include:

  • Quashed Gujarat government’s remission order as “void and inoperative.”
  • Held that the state government has no powers to grant remission in a case investigated by CBI and tried outside of Gujarat, i.e Maharashtra.
  • Termed the remission as “nullity in the eyes of law.”
  • Ordered immediate rearrest of all 11 convicted men. They were given two weeks to surrender.
  • Issued notice to the Gujarat government asking to explain on what grounds remission was granted.

The apex court’s strong indictment of Gujarat government’s actions has several implications. By terming the remission as legally unsustainable and a “nullity”, the SC upheld rights of victims like Bilkis over arbitrary use of power by ruling regimes.

Experts called it a landmark verdict that could deter future attempts by states to improperly grant remission without following due process. However, the larger issues around securing justice for victims of communal crimes remain unresolved.

Bilkis Bano’s courageous fight for 20 years while enduring severe trauma also highlights the need for police and judicial reforms to support survivors of gender violence. While the SC verdict resonated with public conscience, implementing ground level changes remains a challenge.

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