"Govt needs to think about victim": Ex-judge who convicted 11men in Bilkis Bano case on their releasetext_fields
Mumbai: Retired Justice UD Salvi, who had sentenced 11 men to life imprisonment In 2008 for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of her family members during the Gujarat riots in 2002, on Tuesday strongly criticized the decision.
"Whoever took this decision, should reconsider this, that's all I can say," Justice UD Salvi, who retired as a Bombay High Court judge, said on Tuesday in Mumbai.
He wondered how the state government came up with such a decision while adding that the case went through each and every process and that the 11 convicts got life imprisonment after going through all the proof.
He added that although the government has the power to give remission, it should think about every factor before giving any decision, or else it isn't right.
"The state government should have asked the judge under whom the case was heard and I can tell you that I heard nothing regarding this. This case was investigated by CBI. In such cases, the state government needs to take advice from the central government as well. Did they do that? I have no idea. If they did, what did the central government say?" he said.
The judge also criticized how the convicts were welcomed by groups linked to the ruling BJP - with sweets, hugs, and garlands; as well as the comment by a BJP MLA that the men were Brahmins with "good sanskar" (culture).
"Apart from this, welcoming these 11 convicts isn't right. Some think this is part of Hindutva or they did it as a Hindu. That is wrong... Some are telling that they are Brahmin. Saying that isn't right," Justice Salvi said.
"While giving any remission, the government needs to think about the victim as well as the crime done. I don't think so that has been done," he added.
On August 15, as India celebrated 75 years of Independence, all 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 case of Bilkis Bano's gang rape and murder of her seven family members during the Gujarat riots walked out of the Godhra sub-jail.
Their release was allowed by the state's BJP government under its remission policy, drawing severe criticism from Opposition parties and civil society.