Gujarat High Court grants 10-day parole to Bilkis Bano Case Convict
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Sukhmani Kooner, Pune

On August 15, 2022, 11 men walked out of Gujarat’s Godhra jail. 20 years ago, during the bloody riots of Godhra, these men gang-raped Bilkis Bano and raped and murdered several of her family members. A video of them being released from jail without completing their full term, on grounds of ‘good conduct’ sent shockwaves across the nation. The Gujarat government had decided to release them based on the remission policy.

The convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Bombay High Court; however, on completion of 14 years of sentence, they appealed to the Gujarat High Court to release them. They were released on the grounds of Section 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which allows governments to commute an imprisonment of life to an imprisonment of 14 years. On this decision, Bilkis Bano put out a statement that these orders had taken away her peace and had shaken her faith in justice. Later, the Supreme Court nullified the remission orders.

On February 24, 2024, the application was moved in the Gujarat High Court by Ramesh Chandana, one of the eleven convicts, to grant him parole leave because he had to attend the wedding of his sister’s son. He was granted 10 days parole. He becomes the second convict in the Bilkis Bano gang case to be released from jail on parole after Pradip Modhiya. In the affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court by the Gujarat High Court, Chandana had been on parole, which is like a temporary or permanent release granted based on good conduct, for 1,198 days. He also had enjoyed a furlough, which is a temporary leave of absence after which the prisoner has to report back to the jail, 378 since the day of his imprisonment in 2008. Parole is requested by the prisoner and can be denied in some cases; however, a furlough is a basic right of a prisoner.

However, the moral question always remains, do rape and murder convicts deserve to get their sentences reduced and roam the same streets as the victims? The Maharashtra government, for one, has put a complete ban on parole and furlough for rape convicts or terrorists.