11 Men Convicted in Bilkis Bano Gang-Rape Case Ordered to Surrender by Supreme Court

Mumbai, India – Former Justice UD Salvi, who convicted 11 men for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of her family members in 2008, expressed regret that he was unable to give them the death penalty due to the nature of the offense. The Supreme Court recently overturned the Gujarat government’s decision to grant early release to the 11 accused and ordered them to surrender to the jail authorities within two weeks.

In a statement, Justice Salvi stated that he would have preferred to give the convicts the death penalty, but the crime was instigated rather than a result of personal enmity. He also emphasized the seriousness of the crime when considering the option of premature release for convicted criminals.

Bilkis Bano, who was 21 years old and pregnant at the time of the incident, was fleeing the riots following the Godhra train burning incident in Gujarat in 2002 when she was gang-raped, and seven members of her family were killed.

Justice Salvi commended the recent Supreme Court ruling, which deemed the Gujarat government lacking the authority to release the convicts in 2022, and rejected the jurisdictional remission. He stated that allowing the convicts to remain outside prison would amount to validating “invalid orders.”

The convicts now have the option to file a review petition before the Supreme Court or apply for fresh remission before the Maharashtra government. The Supreme Court’s decision is viewed as a move to uphold the seriousness of the crimes committed and uphold justice for the victims. The case continues to be a powerful reminder of the enduring impact of the 2002 riots in Gujarat, and the fight for justice for Bilkis Bano and her family.