Veil over BJP's anti-women policies removed: Cong on Bilkis Bano case ruling

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Priyanka Gandhi Madhya Pradesh

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (File image)

New Delhi: The Congress on Monday hailed the Supreme Court judgment quashing the Gujarat government's decision to grant remission to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, saying it has removed the veil over the BJP's anti-women policies.

Earlier in the day, accusing the Gujarat government of abusing its power, the apex court quashed the remission to the men convicted of gang-raping Bilkis Bano and murdering seven of her family members during the 2002 riots and ordered that they be sent back to jail within two weeks.

A bench of justices B V Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan directed the convicts to surrender before jail authorities within two weeks.

Reacting to the ruling, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said justice has ultimately prevailed.

"With this order, the veil over the anti-women policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party has been removed. After this, public confidence in the justice system will be further strengthened. Congratulations to Bilkis Bano for continuing her fight bravely," she said in a post in Hindi on 'X'.

The Congress' media and publicity head Pawan Khera said the Supreme Court judgment quashing the release of the 11 rapists by the Gujarat government "exposes the BJP's callous disregard for women".

"It is a slap on the face of those who facilitated the illegal release of these criminals and also those who garlanded the convicts and fed sweets to them...," Khera said.

"India will not allow the administration of justice to be incumbent on the religion or the caste of the victim or the perpetrator of a crime," he added.

In a post on 'X', the Congress said Bilkis Bano's rapists would go to jail again. The BJP government had got these rapists released, it said.

"This decision of the Supreme Court in the Bilkis Bano case is historic. This decision exposes the anti-women act of the BJP government of Gujarat in releasing the rapists of Bilkis Bano. This shows how disgusting the BJP's thinking is towards women," the party said in Hindi.

Holding a PIL challenging the remission as maintainable, the top court bench said the Gujarat government was not the appropriate authority to pass the remission order.

The apex court clarified that the state where an offender is tried and sentenced is the one competent to decide on their remission plea. The convicts in the Bilkis Bano case were tried in Maharashtra.

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was raped while fleeing the horror of the communal riots that broke out after the Godhra train-burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed in the riots.

All 11 convicts were granted remission by the Gujarat government and released on August 15, 2022.