In a significant and damning verdict, the Supreme Court of India has exposed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) role in the release of 11 convicts involved in the rape cases during the Gujarat riots of 2002. The decision has come 22 years after the horrific events, revealing a shocking truth about the party’s actions just ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. This ruling forces the BJP to confront its tarnished image and challenges their credibility, making their ‘Nari Shakti Vandan’ slogan ring hollow in the eyes of the electorate. The rapes occurred during the tenure of Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, and the convicts were later sentenced to life imprisonment by a competent court in Maharashtra. The case was transferred due to suspicions of the Gujarat government’s complicity in the riots. However, the BJP-led Gujarat government, with the approval of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Centre, issued remission orders leading to the release of the convicts. This move sparked widespread outrage and protests across the country. The recent Supreme Court ruling, delivered by a division bench led by Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, declared that the State of Gujarat was not the “appropriate government” to decide on the remission issue since the trial occurred in Maharashtra. The court directed the convicts to surrender within two weeks and ordered the Gujarat and Central governments to submit all relevant records.
Justice Nagarathna’s judgment emphasized the rights of victims and their families to justice, stating, “A woman deserves respect, however high or low she may otherwise be considered in society or to whatever faith she may follow or whatever creed she may belong to. Can heinous crimes against women permit remission?” This underscores the ethical dimensions of releasing rape convicts and exposes the communal mindset of the RSS-BJP leaders, who supported Hindu rioters while denying justice to a minority rape victim. The court also pointed out the fraudulent actions of one of the convicts, declaring the Gujarat High Court’s order as a nullity and non-est in law. It deemed the remission order as an abuse of power and usurpation by the Gujarat government, emphasizing that the exercise of power was a violation of the rule of law. The ruling has ignited strong reactions from political leaders across the spectrum. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor called it a “bloodstained blot” on the Gujarat government, asserting that the BJP had resorted to fraudulent means to secure the release of rapists and murderers. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge criticized the BJP’s “Beti Bachao” slogan, claiming it has turned into “doshi bachao,” highlighting the party’s abandonment of justice for women.
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi demanded apologies from the BJP governments in Gujarat and at the Centre, alleging their role in releasing the rapists and killers of the victim’s family members. The CPI(M) labeled the Supreme Court decision as a “hard slap” on the state government, echoing the sentiments of various opposition parties and eminent personalities. As the released victims go into hiding from their villages, the BJP government now faces the challenge of implementing the Supreme Court order and bringing them back to prison. This entire episode is poised to impact the upcoming Lok Sabha election campaigns, forcing the BJP to address serious questions about its commitment to justice and governance.