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Home Ministry 'allowed' remission to Bilkis gangrape, murder convicts: Vrinda Grover

By Our Representative 
Top Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover has said that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs under Amit Shah has "allowed" the controversial remission granted to 11 gang rape and murder convicts in the Bilkis Bano case on August 15. Speaking in Ahmedabad before Gujarat activists gathered for a lecture in memory of well-known state high court lawyer Girish Patel, she said, “It is mandatory for the Central government to approve the remission.”
Grover, a human rights lawyer, said, there is “radio silence” on the part of the Government of India on providing remission, despite so much of noise around it. However, the very fact that the committee appointed by the Gujarat government for giving remission is legally bound to take the approval of the Central government suggests that without the latter’s approval the remission would not have happened.
“Hence, I assume the Ministry of Home Affairs concurrence was taken”, Grover underlined, regretting, however, “No documents have been made public on the process of remission”, which she described as part of the “impunity of a majoritarian penal, carceral state”. It suggests a pattern in India. Human rights activists are put in jail. they are being cut off from victims of state oppression. The Bhima Koregaon case and the recent arrest of Teesta Setalvad and RB Srikumar suggests exactly this, she said.
Stating that there is a controversy around the 1992 policy under which the state government allowed the 11 convicts to go free after 15 years of imprisonment, she said, “This policy also requires the advise of the convicting judge of the CBI court Justice UD Salve (retired), who sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment in 2008. Salve is on record of having said his advise not not taken.” She added, as for the Government of India’s own recent remission policy, it does not allow freeing those convicted of murder and gang rape.
Citing an Indian Express report, she said, already, one can see the impact of the decision to free the convicts of murder and gang rape. The Muslims of Randhikpur, the village of Bilkis Bano, are fleeing from their residence, suggesting the “impunity of the majoritarian state”. Praising Bilkis Bano and her husband of withstanding the powerful majoritarian state despite being illiterate, she commended the civil rights organisation and activists without naming them for standing by her all through her ordeal.



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