Monday, December 5, 2022

Aberration of justice

At a time when several states including Gujarat are going to the assembly polls in December 2022, the opposition has come out strongly against the release on bail to 11 on August 15,2022 convicted in the rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 Gujarat riots. The convicts, who were also charged with killing the pregnant Muslim woman’s three-year-old daughter. Though the Gujarat government tried to wash off its hands on the matter, such recommendations are made by a state to the Centre. However, as the saying ‘the taste of the pudding is in the eating’ the fact is that neither Gujarat state nor the Centre has explained who eventually tilted the balance in favour of the rapists. As if the release wasn’t enough to add salt to injury, the convicted rapists were shown openly being feted with garlands and offering of sweets at the VHP office. Bilkis Bano was brutally gang raped while being pregnant at the age of 21. Seven members of her family were killed by rioters and when their bodies were exhumed they were headless. The trial was moved out of Gujarat to Maharashtra after Bilkis Bano received death threats. In the Mumbai court, charges were filed against 19 men, including six police officers and a government doctor. In January 2008, a special court convicted 11 accused of conspiring to rape a pregnant woman, murder, unlawful assembly, and of charges under other sections of the Indian Penal Code. The Head Constable was convicted of “making incorrect records” to save the accused. Another case the dichotomy was glaring when Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, convicted in two separate cases of murder, and a charge of rape, was released from Sunaria prison in Rohtak on a 40-day parole on October 14. This is the third time in the past year that Rahim has been released from prison, twice on parole and once on furlough (a parole is for a specific exigency; and a furlough, a general break from imprisonment, according to the Supreme Court). Also, like the past two times, this time too, there are elections involved in regions where Rahim still has some influence. It may be a coincidence but every time there is an election in Haryana or nearby state of Punjab, Ram Rahim is allowed to go on a long parole. The convicted godman is believed to have over 40 lakh followers in Malwa region of Punjab, which holds the maximum 69 seats of the total 117 seats in the Punjab Assembly. He also holds sway even in Haryana where the ruling BJP leaders has made no bones about his vote bank which will be tested in the forthcoming panchayat polls in the state. Haryana Assembly Deputy Speaker Ranbir Gangwa was seen seeking his blessings and praising the humanitarian works undertaken by the Dera at several places at an online interaction with the Dera chief. Such aberration to justice need to be challenged in the court(s) for the sole reason that the rule of law has been subverted by political forces who care two hoots about the very rule of the constitution upon which they have sworn to protect and preserve.

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