New Delhi: Bilkis Bano’s rapists, serving life sentences, were released since they had completed over 14 years in prison and their behavior was found to be good, the Gujarat government told the Supreme Court.
“After the state’s approval, orders to release the prisoners were issued on August 10. Hence, in this case, the state has considered the proposals under the 1992 policy as directed by this court and not granted remission under the circular governing the grant of remission to prisoners as part of celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav,” the court was told.
The government, in its affidavit, also said that a third party cannot interfere in a criminal matter under the garb of a PIL. The pleas challenging the remission are a sheer misuse of PIL jurisdiction, it further said.
Gujarat also had the Centre’s approval in the matter, it told the Supreme Court. The central government through the Home Ministry conveyed its approval for the release of the 11 rapists through a letter dated July 11, it said.
The convicts’ release set off a huge political controversy since the policy under which the rapists were released did not have restrictions on the early release of rape convicts or those sentenced to life. Bilkis Bano and her family maintained they were not consulted or informed about the decision.
The convicts were sentenced to life terms in jail by a special court in Mumbai for the gangrape and the murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano’s family, including her children. The sentence was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.