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"Done As Per Law," Union Minister Prahlad Joshi Defends Release Of Bilkis Bano Case Convicts

The minister defended the Gujarat government's move to grant the 11 convicts remission, stating that for convicts who have spent 'quite some time' in prison, 'there is a provision' for release.

Union Minister Prahlad Joshi
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A day after the Gujarat government made a shocking submission in the apex court that the Union government had given the nod to release the 11 men convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape case, Cabinet Minister Prahlad Joshi defended the move. "I don't find anything wrong in it as it is a process of law," Joshi told NDTV on Tuesday. 

The Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister further said that for convicts who have spent "quite some time" in prison, "there is a provision" for release. "Accordingly, as per law, it is done," Mr Joshi reiterated.

The decision to grant remission was made despite the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)'s strong objections. 

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear petitions challenging the convicts' release on November 29

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident in 2002. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed.

The investigation in the case was handed over to the CBI and the trial was transferred to a Maharashtra court by the Supreme Court. A special CBI court in Mumbai had on January 21, 2008, sentenced the 11 men to life imprisonment on charges of gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of her family members.

Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. The convicts walked out free from the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy. They had completed more than 15 years in jail.

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