The Gujarat government is being criticized across the country for the pardon and release of the culprits of the Bilkis Bano case. But it seems that it is neither making any difference to the central government nor to the BJP government of Gujarat.
The Gujarat government has shown yet another brashness in the matter, refusing to provide information under RTI to a query on the terms of reference of the committee recommending exemption to the convicts.
Civil rights activist Pankti Jok had sought information from the Home Department of the Gujarat government about the terms and conditions of the recommendatory committee set up for the release of the convicts.
In response to this, the Home Department of Gujarat said that the information sought in the application does not come under the definition of RTI. The Home Department, citing a provision of the RTI Act, said that the information sought does not come under the definition of Right to Information.
Pankti Jog, who works for the Mahiti Adhikar Initiative, will now appeal further against the decision. Joke told The Week that it was ridiculous and was not expected from the Home Department.
In fact, the row had sought attested copies of the terms of reference of the committees constituted to consider the names of the convicts in the name of exemption during the last five years.
Jog had demanded to know the number of convicts released in the last five years, on what basis the exemption was given along with the dates. Jog said that he did not get any transparency in this matter and hence he had filed this application.
At the same time, the convicts of Bilkis Bano said in the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court that their premature release is justified. The Gujarat government has released him following all the rules related to ‘premature release’. The Supreme Court had earlier said that the 1992 rules related to it would apply for his release.
The Bilkis Bano case of Gujarat is of 2002 riots. Then five months pregnant Bilkis Bano was gang-raped. 7 members of his family were also murdered.
In this case, on January 21, 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai convicted 11 accused and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Which was also upheld by the Bombay High Court. But the Gujarat government had prematurely released these 11 convicts on August 15 this year on the basis of the pardon policy.