Days after convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano case of Gujarat were released, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said it was wrong if a person accused of a crime is “felicitated” and there can be no justification for such an act.
His remarks came during a discussion in the Maharashtra Legislative Council on an incident in Bhandara district, where a 35-year-old woman was sexually assaulted allegedly by three people.
Fadnavis, who is also the home minister, said there was no reason to raise the Bilkis Bano issue in the House.
“The accused have been freed after completing nearly 20 years…14 years in jail. The release has been done after a Supreme Court order. But it is wrong if any accused is felicitated and welcomed. An accused is an accused and there can be no justification for this (act),” news agency PTI reported quoting Fadnavis as saying.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said it will look into the petition challenging remission granted by the Gujarat government to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.
The Gujarat government on August 15 released the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case under its remission and premature release policy after one of the convicts, Radheshyam Shah moved the Supreme Court. Following their release, they were welcomed with garlands.
Bilkis Bano was gangraped and her three-year-old daughter Saleha was among the 14 killed by a mob on March 3, 2002, in Limkheda taluka of Dahod district during the 2002 riots. Bilkis was pregnant at the time.
In 2008, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai sentenced the eleven accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of the family of Bilkis Bano. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.
After serving more than 15 years in jail, one of the convicts with a plea for premature release knocked the doors of the Supreme Court which directed the Gujarat government to look into the issue of remission of his sentence as per its 1992 policy on the basis of the date of his conviction. Following the apex court’s directions, the government formed a committee and issued an order allowing premature release of all the convicts from jail.
(With PTI inputs)