Friday, December 2, 2022

DCW chief writes to PM for stronger laws, policies against rape convicts

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking stronger laws and policies restraining remission and parole of rape convicts.
Referring to the release of the rapists of Bilkis Bano and the parole given to rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim, she demanded that they be sent back to jail.
Bilkis Bano was 21 years old when she was gang-raped during the riots in Gujarat in 2002. The rapists not only inflicted utmost brutality on the five-month pregnant Bilkis Bano, but also killed seven of her family members, including her three-year-old child, Maliwal wrote. Finally in 2008, a sessions court in Mumbai convicted 11 persons for gangrape and murder in her case and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
However, on August 15 this year, the rapists were let off by the Gujarat government citing the 1992 remission policy that allowed prisoners to apply for reduction of their sentence.
“Apparently, this was done despite CBI and Special Judge (CBI) raising objections against the release of the convicts. The media has also reported that some of the rapists of Bilkis Bano were charged for crimes such as ‘outraging the modesty of women’ when they had been released on parole. Despite this, their sentence was reduced as even the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, recommended the premature release of the convicts,” she said.
In a separate case, the Government of Haryana recently released on parole Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim who has been convicted of rape and murder and is serving a life sentence in a jail in Rohtak, she said.
“It has been observed that the convict has been released multiple times during his incarceration. This time, when out on parole, he has held several ‘Pravachan Sabhas’ and released music videos promoting himself,” she said.
The DCW chief said the “existing rules and policies vis a vis remission, parole and even furlough in the country are extremely weak” and can be easily manipulated.
In the letter, the panel also recommended that the remission of sentence of convicts should not be allowed in the case of heinous crimes against women and children such as rape, murder, trafficking, acid attack and others.
“Also, parole and furlough should only be granted to convicts serving sentences in such heinous crimes under extraordinary circumstances, in the rarest of the rare cases, with strict conditions and for a few days only,” she stated.
The panel has recommended that the matter of the premature release of Bilkis Bano’s rapists and Gurmeet Ram Rahim be taken up with respective state governments and the Ministry of Home Affairs so that the convicts are made to serve their complete jail term, and parole of Gurmeet Ram Rahim is cancelled.

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