After spending over 15 years in jail, 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 riots walked out of jail as the Gujarat government has allowed their release under its remission policy.
The State government has accepted the recommendation of a local committee which decided to allow their remission after the Supreme Court directed the State authorities to decide on merit following a convict’s petition in the apex court seeking premature release under the remission policy.
The committee was set up and headed by the Godhra district Collector since the convicts were serving their sentence in the Godhra sub-jail.
The convicts were awarded life imprisonment by a special CBI court in Mumbai in January 2008 on charges of gang-rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family during the post-Godhra communal riots in the State.
Bilkis Bano had survived the massacre and her case was one of the most important cases related to the 2002 riots and its probe was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while the trial was shifted from Gujarat to Maharashtra at the instance of the Supreme Court.
The trial court’s conviction was upheld by the Bombay High Court also.
“The State government had formed a committee a few months ago to decide on the remission of those convicted in the case. The committee took the unanimous decision in favour of remission of all the 11 convicts,” a government official said.
He said the government had accepted the recommendation of the committee and accordingly the convicts were released from jail.