Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said that it was “wrong” and “unjustified” to felicitate convicted criminals, as in the 2002 Bilkis Bano case of Gujarat.
Referring to the welcome and garlanding of the accused in the 20-year-old rape case of Bilkis Bano, Fadnavis told the legislature that such acts are wrong and cannot be justifiable.
The reference came during a discussion on the recent gang-rape of a 35-year old woman for over three days in Bhandara district and Fadnavis said there was no need to raise the Bilkis Bano matter in the legislature.
The 11 convicts undergoing life sentences in the two decades old cases were set free on August 15, after spending 14 years in jail following an apex court order.
They were convicted in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case and murder of her seven family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Their release from Godhra Jail came as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Gujarat government action under the 1992 remission policy allowing premature release of prisoners.
The state government faced flak over the release and more outrage after the convicts were welcomed with garlands following their release from the prison.
In January 2008, a special CBI court in Mumbai had found all the 11 accused guilty of gangrape and murders and sentenced them life in jail.