ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Wounds of Remission

The release of Bilkis Bano’s tormenters puts a question mark on the provision of remitting the convicts.

Eleven persons convicted for gang rape and murder who were sentenced to life imprisonment were prematurely released on 15 August 2022. The garlands and sweets offered to these convicted prisoners after their release by right-wing activists only bring back the memory of the crimes committed in the Gujarat riots of 2002. The remission of the convicted prisoners is also a grim reminder that the trauma and tormenting memory of the heinous crimes are bound to stay, particularly with those who were able to secure some degree of justice from the law enforcement and judicial agencies that were processing the cases for justice. As a part of procedural justice, the case of Bilkis Bano—which she fought with moral tenacity—brought to her and her family some sense of relief as after several years of investigation and judicial proceedings, her tormentors were convicted by the sessions court in Mumbai in 2008. However, whatever little sense of justice that the victim was able to secure stands completely shattered by the recent remission.

The prisoners under reference were released as part of a special remission programme on the occasion of Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav. The philosophy behind such a scheme is informed by the restorative or rehabilitative vision of justice where it is believed that criminals are a product of socio-economic circumstances and deserve to be given a second chance for improving their life prospects. The module prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) regarding the special remission scheme has socially sensitive and reformist provisions such as giving priority to women and transgender individuals above 50 years of age for early release, terminally ill and physically challenged people, poor people who have finished their sentence but are still in jail due to the non-payment of fines, and young persons who committed a crime between 18 and 21 years of age and have completed 50% of their awarded sentence. Moreover, the module also clearly mentions that special remission is not to be granted to the following individuals—persons convicted with the sentence of life imprisonment, those convicted for the offence of rape, dowry death, human trafficking, molestation of children, and offences for which death penalty has been specified as one of the punishments, among others.

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Updated On : 3rd Sep, 2022
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