Bilkis Bano Case and the mechanism of Remission

Bilkis Bano Case and the mechanism of Remission

Why in the news?

Eleven convicts in 2002 Bilkis Bano case, sentenced to life imprisonment, were released from Godhra sub-jail on August 15 this year, under Gujarat government’s remission policy.

What is Bilkis Bano Case? 

  • On February 27, 2002,  Godhara riots erupted in Gujarat after Sabarmati train was burnt and over 50 karsevaks were killed on that train. 
  • Fearing the outbreak of this violence during that time , Bilkis fled from her village with her three year-old daughter and 15 other family members.
  • Bilkis , her mother and her daughter were raped and brutally assaulted. Among the family members, only Bilkis, a man, and a three-year-old survived the attack.
  • After the trial in 2008, the Special CBI Court sentenced 11 men to life imprisonment on the charges of conspiring to rape a pregnant woman, murder unlawful assembly under the Indian Penal Code.
  •  The court acquitted seven other accused for lack of evidence. One of the accused had died during the trial.


What is contemporary development?

  • Gujarat government has recently granted remission to all the 11 accused.
  •  Premature release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case by the Gujarat Government has generated some critical reactions throughout the country.

What is mechanism of remission?

  • The Constitution of India conferred the power on the President of India and the Governors of the States by Articles 72 and 161 respectively.
  • When the President or the state Governor chooses the pardoning power of Remission, he acts to reduce the period of the sentence but the character of the sentence remains the same. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year but the imprisonment remains rigorous.

Other pardoning powers

  1. Pardon–  When the President pardons, both the sentence and the conviction of the convict completely absolve the sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
  2. Reprieve– When the President chooses the pardoning power of ‘Reprieve’; he stays the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. By doing this, he enables the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from him
  3. Respite When the President uses the pardoning power of ‘Respite’, he chooses to award a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded to the convict. For example, due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender, the President can use this power.
  4. Commute– When the President chooses to use this pardoning power of ‘Commute; he substitutes one form of punishment for a lighter form. It can be explained through an  example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to simple imprisonment.

plutus ias current affairs eng med 20th August 2022

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