Supreme Court Unveils Deceptive Tactics in Obtaining Judgment Mandating Gujarat Government to Consider Remission, Deeming It in Violation of Legal Standards.

Case Title: Bilkis Yakub Rasool v. Union of India & Ors.

Case No: Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 491 of 2022

Decided on:  8th January, 2024


Facts of the Case

In 2002, Bano, aged 21 and five months pregnant, experienced a brutal gang rape in the Dahod district of Gujarat amid the post-Godhra communal riots. Rioters also killed seven of her family members, including her three-year-old daughter. In 2008, the trial was moved to Maharashtra, where a Mumbai Sessions Court convicted the accused under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, sentencing them to life imprisonment. The Bombay High Court, in 2017, affirmed the convictions and life sentences for the 11 individuals involved.

After spending 15 years behind bars, Radheshyam Shah, one of the convicts, sought remission of his sentence from the Gujarat High Court. However, the High Court rejected the plea, citing lack of jurisdiction. The matter then reached the Apex Court, which ruled that the Gujarat Government should decide on the remission application since the crime occurred within the state. In accordance with the remission policy, the State Government released the convicts in 2022.

Disheartened by this decision, Bilkis Bano approached the Supreme Court to contest the premature release of the 11 convicts.


Whether the premature release of the 11 convicts was justifiable?

Court’s analysis and decision

The Supreme Court overturned the premature release of eleven life convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, declaring its May 2022 judgment instructing the Gujarat Government to review the remission applications as null and void. The decision was based on the finding that the petitioner, Radheshyam Shah, one of the convicts, had engaged in fraudulent conduct by withholding crucial information and providing deceptive statements.

Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan, comprising the bench, highlighted that the May 2022 directive stemmed from a writ petition filed by Shah, who had suppressed significant facts, including a prior ruling by the Gujarat High Court and the presiding judge’s opinion. The bench, after months of hearings, was informed that Shah initially sought direction from the Gujarat High Court for the State of Gujarat to consider his remission plea. However, the high court dismissed his petition, advising him to approach the appropriate government, namely the State of Maharashtra. Despite a second application also being rejected by the Gujarat High Court, Shah’s subsequent actions were deemed fraudulent by the Supreme Court.

The court emphasized that the purpose of punishment is not vengeance but rather prevention and reformation. Drawing inspiration from Plato’s treatise, the court likened the role of a lawgiver to that of a doctor, administering punishment like medicine to benefit the individual being disciplined. According to this curative theory of punishment, if a criminal is deemed curable, the focus should be on education and other appropriate measures to transform them into a better citizen, reducing the burden on the State. This principle forms the core of the remission policy.

The court further emphasized the inherent respect owed to women, regardless of their social standing, faith, or creed. It questioned whether heinous crimes against women should allow for remission, raising crucial ethical considerations. The Supreme Court nullified the remission of 11 convicts, asserting that the State of Gujarat lacked authority to decide on remission since the trial occurred in the State of Maharashtra. Consequently, the court directed the released convicts to surrender in prison within two weeks, overturning their premature release granted in August 2022.

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Written by- Afshan Ahmad

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The Delhi High Court granted the benefit of remission under Delhi Prison Rules 2018


Date of Decision: 05.07.2023

EX.P. 109/2019



Delhi High Court granted the benefit of remission under Delhi Prison Rules 2018 and held that a plain reading of rules would show that rule 1175 defines the eligibility for remission and it has defined the term “Convicted prisoner” which would include both civil as well as criminal prisoners.

Facts of the Case

In brief, this Court found the applicant guilty of contempt of court for disobeying instructions and the undertaking made in an order dated 24.05.2019, taking into account the facts of the case and particularly the applicant’s behaviour to the knowledgeable Arbitrator. The petitioner was ordered by the court to pay the decree holder an amount of Rs. 5.05 crores, or the value of the missing machinery and equipment. Further instructions said that the applicant would face a three-month sentence of civil jail if the aforementioned sum was not paid within six weeks.

By means of CONT.APP. (C)15/2019, the aforementioned order was contested before the Division Bench. The appeal was dismissed by decision dated 26.11.2019, to which a S.L.P. (Crl.) No. 665 of 2020 was filed in response. This claim was also rejected, but the deadline for depositing the money was extended by orders dated 11.11.2022 and 15.12.2022. After then, on January 13, 2023, a Review Petition No. 12/2023 submitted to the Division Bench was likewise dismissed.

On March 29, 2023, the court ordered the petitioner to appear and serve three months of civil incarceration in accordance with the decision dated May 25, 2019, noting that he had neglected to deposit the sum of Rs. 5.05 crores. According to reports, the applicant turned himself in on April 10, 2023, and has been incarcerated since.

Analysis of the case

The order dated 24.05.2019 was issued in response to a petition brought under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”). Punishment for disobedience and noncompliance with the court’s order is the outcome of the civil contempt proceedings under the Act. The procedures differ from execution proceedings under the Code of Civil Procedure in that the Court must expressly satisfy it and record a finding that the disobedience was deliberate and purposeful in the contempt proceedings.

In Sections 3(2), (3), and (4) of The Prisons Act of 1894, the terms “criminal prisoner,” “convicted criminal prisoner,” and “civil prisoner” are defined. the terms “civil prisoners,” “convicted criminal prisoners,” and “criminal prisoner” are likewise defined in the Delhi Prisons Act, 2000 (Delhi Act No. 2 of 2002), and they are identical to those used in The Prisons Act, 1984. The Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 (hence referred to as the “Rules”) were created by the government of the NCT of Delhi in accordance with its authority under Section 71 of The Delhi Prisons Act, 2000.

Court held, one of the most prized elements of the Indian Constitution is personal freedom. and its infringement cannot occur except in line with the law and in accordance with its provisions, as stated in Article 21 of the Constitution. It is commonly known that a legal process cannot be capricious, unjust, or irrational.

This Court believes that a straightforward interpretation of the aforementioned Rules would demonstrate that the term “convicted prisoner” is used when describing eligibility for remission in Rule 1175. This phrase is comprehensive and makes no distinction between a “criminal prisoner” and a “civil prisoner” who has been found guilty. Although there is no specific provision for remission in Chapter XXXIII of the Rules that apply to civil prisoners, this does not indicate that Rule 1175 of the Rules is no longer relevant to the petitioner. Additionally, Rule 1176 does not specifically exclude civil prisoners. This Court thus believes that the aforementioned definition and rule apply to both types of convicts. Additionally, the claim that the petitioner has not been awarded a substantive sentence is equally fallacious as the applicant has been convicted and punished with substantive sentence of detention in civil prison for three months and as such, he is eligible for remission in terms of Rule 1175(1).

Thus the court allowed the application and directed the Superintendent to provide the applicant or contestant with the benefit of remission in accordance with the relevant Rules.

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Written By – Shreyanshu Gupta

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