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Congress hails SC decision in Bilkis Bano case, Priyanka Gandhi says, "veil is off BJP's anti-women policies"

New Delhi: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi 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.
Taking to X, the Congress leader said that justice has ultimately prevailed after the SC verdict in the case.
"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," she said in a post in Hindi on 'X'.
She further lauded Bilkis Bano and said, "Congratulations to Bilkis Bano for continuing her fight bravely."
The Congress party also took to X and attacked the BJP, saying that the verdict shows the "anti-women" act of the BJP government in Gujarat.
"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.
Congress leader Pawan Khera said the judgement of the apex court "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...," Pawan Khera said, adding that 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.
Outisde Bilkis Bano's home in Devgadh Baria, Gujarat there was an impromptu celebration with firecrackers being burst outside the residence.
The Supreme Court on Monday struck down the Gujarat government's order granting remission to 11 convicts who had gangraped Bilkis Bano and murdered her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots.
A bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan quashed the Gujarat government's remission order by which convicts were released pre-maturely.
It asked all 11 convicts to surrender before jail authorities within two weeks.
The bench held that the Gujarat government was not competent to pass the remission orders but the Maharashtra government. It said the appropriate government to decide the remission was the state within whose territorial limits the accused are sentenced, not where the crime is committed or the accused are imprisoned.
The top court held that the judgement of May 13, 2022, by which another bench of the apex court had directed the Gujarat government to consider remission of convicts as per the 1992 policy, was obtained by "playing fraud" on the court and by suppressing material facts.
The Gujarat government usurped the powers of the Maharashtra government acting in furtherance of the judgement dated May 13, 2022, which, in our opinion, is a "nullity," said the bench.
The convicts had not approached the court with clean hands, said the bench, adding that proceedings before this court were due to "suppression of facts," and that is why it is fraud played on this court.
The apex court questioned why the Gujarat government had not filed any application seeking a review of the May 13, 2022, order, as it was not the appropriate government.
The judgement of the top court came on a petition filed by Bilkis Bano and others challenging the pre-mature release of 11 convicts.
In March 2002, during the post-Godhra riots, Bano was allegedly gang-raped and left to die with 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. She was five months pregnant when rioters attacked her family in Vadodara.
The Gujarat government had released the 11 convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, on August 15, 2022. All 11 life-term convicts in the case were released as per the remission policy prevalent in Gujarat at the time of their conviction in 2008.
It is pertinent to note that the remission was not granted under the circular governing the grant of remission to prisoners as part of the celebration of "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav."

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