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    Explained: What are the laws of remission in Gujarat under which 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano case were released?

    Explained: What are the laws of remission in Gujarat under which 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano case were released?

    Explained: What are the laws of remission in Gujarat under which 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano case were released?
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    By CNBCTV18.COM IST (Published)

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    The 11 men were convicted on January 21, 2008, by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai. They were sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of gang rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of seven members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter.

    The Gujarat government on Monday released all 11 life-term convicts in the Bilkis Bano murder and gang rape case of the 2002 riots under the state’s 1992 remission and premature release policy.
    The move comes after one convict, Radheshyam Shah, who completed 15 years and 4 months in jail, moved the Supreme Court seeking premature release.
    Following the approval of their application for remission, the convicts walked out of the Godhra sub-jail.
    The 11 men were convicted on January 21, 2008, by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai. They were sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of gang rape of then 21-year-old Bilkis Bano and murder of seven members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. The Bombay High Court upheld the conviction in 2017 and confirmed the life sentences of 11 men found guilty of rape and murder.
    What are the laws on remissions?
    Remission of the sentence means the reduction in the duration of the term imposed on a convict.
    Prisoners are often granted remission of sentences and released on important occasions such as birth and death anniversaries of prominent leaders. This year, as part of the celebration of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the government issued guidelines to states and Union Territories to grant special remission to those prisoners who have completed at least half their sentence, including male convicts above the age of 60, terminally ill and women and transgender prisoners above the age of 50. These prisoners will be released in three phases -- August 15, 2022 (Independence Day), January 26 (Republic Day), and August 15, 2023 (Independence Day).
    The President and the Governors have the power to pardon, suspend, remit, or commute a sentence passed by the courts under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution. Under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the state governments also have the power to remit sentences as prisons are a state subject. However, the powers of remission of the state government are restricted by Section 433A of the CrPC.
    As per the law, if a person gets a life imprisonment sentence for an offence in which death is one of the punishments provided by law or where a death sentence has been commuted under Section 433 into one of life imprisonment, “such person shall not be released from prison unless he had served at least fourteen years of imprisonment.”
    What did the Supreme Court say?
    This year, Bilkis Bano case convict Radheshyam Shah approached the Supreme Court after he completed 15 years and four months of his life term. A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Vikram Nath ordered the Gujarat government on May 13 to consider Shah’s application for premature release under the state’s 1992 remission policy.
    Although the sentence was awarded to the convict in Mumbai, Maharashtra, the Gujarat government had the right to decide on the remission or premature release as the crime was committed there, the SC said.
    Earlier, the top court had transferred the trial to Mumbai after Bilkis Bano faced death threats in Gujarat.
    What is Gujarat’s remission policy?
    In 1992, Gujarat notified a policy which allowed prisoners to apply for remission. At the time when the crime was committed and during their conviction, this policy was in force.  It was invalidated by the Supreme Court in November 2012.  The Gujarat government formulated a fresh policy in 2014 based on the SC directive and instructions issued subsequently by the home ministry. The new policy listed cases where remission could not be granted, including those in which the prisoners were convicted for a crime investigated by the CBI and where prisoners were convicted for murder with rape or gang rape.
    Why did the Bilkis case convicts get remission?
    The 1992 policy did not have the restrictions prescribed in the 2014 policy, additional chief secretary (home) Raj Kumar told Indian Express. Shah had sought remission under the 1992 policy. Kumar also said that the CBI order in 2008 did not prevent the convicts from applying for remission.
     
     
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