Former Bombay High Court judge UD Salvi questioned the release of Bilkis Bano’s rapists. He was the one who convicted those 11 criminals in rape and murder cases. And yesterday the Supreme Court said that they are willing to hear the public interest case filed against the Gujarat government’s decision to release the criminals. After hearing the pleas of various people, the bench of Chief Justice N. V. Ramana announced this decision.
On August 15, the Gujarat government released 11 people convicted of rape and murder of seven members of a family on the country’s Independence Day. The criminals were not only welcomed with flowers and sweets, but a BJP MLA called them reformers by showing their Brahmin identity. Ex-Judge Salvi of the Bombay High Court, enraged by the whole matter, one day sentenced the criminals to life imprisonment. Salvi said, “Whoever took this decision of releasing them, in my opinion, should reconsider it.”
In his words, “They were sentenced to life imprisonment after considering all the facts and evidence. But what the government thought afterward is a question.” Salvi said, “Did they ask the opinion of the judge who gave the verdict before making such a decision? I say I knew nothing about this. Besides, the incident was investigated by the CBI. The state government has to take the advice of the center to proceed in such matters. I don’t know if that has been done. And if that is done, what exactly is the position of the central government?”
The former judge commented, “The government has the right to release the criminals. But before taking that decision, it has to consider all aspects. I don’t know if they (Gujarat government) have looked into all that.”
Former Justice Salvi expressed his anger about how those 11 criminals were received. In his words, “It is not right at all. Some people have thought that these are part of Hinduism, they are Brahmins – this kind of thinking cannot be accepted.” The family of Bilkis Bano should have been thought of before releasing the 11 convicts, argued the former judge of the Bombay High Court. Because they have been tortured. In the words of former Justice Salvi, “The criminals who were released, have they apologized? But garlands were put on their necks. They don’t seem to have any remorse for the crime.”
Gujarat government’s stance
The Gujarat government is uncomfortable with Bilkis Bano’s rapists being publicly outraged by the same judge. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also announced yesterday that the petitions against the release of the criminals will be heard. Lawyer Aparna Bhatt raised the matter in the Chief Justice’s court yesterday morning. She requested to hear the matter today. The Chief Justice agreed to hear the matter. He asked lawyer Kapil Sibal whether the Gujarat government had decided to release the criminals after the Supreme Court’s order. Sibal said the Supreme Court had allowed the government to look into the matter.