Bilkis Bano case convict out on 5-day parole

Days after convicts in the Bilkis Bano case surrendered before jail authorities on Supreme Court orders, one of them has been given a five-day parole by the Gujarat High Court due to the death of his father-in-law, a police official said on Friday. Convict Pradip Modhiya, a resident of Dahod district, has been released from Godhra district jail on parole.

The Supreme Court had last month quashed the remission of sentence of all 11 convicts in the 2002 post-Godhra riot case of gangrape of Gujarat woman Bilkis Bano and murder of her seven relatives.

“The Gujarat High Court has given a five-day parole to one convict Pradip Modhiya due to the death of his father-in-law. This is between the court and jail as they are in judicial custody,” Deputy Superintendent of Police of Dahod district Visakha Jain said.

“He does not have to report to the police,” she said.

Sources in Godhra district jail, where the convicts are lodged, said they have released Modhiya on parole on the High Court orders. Judge M R Mengdey allowed a five-day parole for Modhiya instead of one month sought by him in his application filed before the HC citing the death of his father-in-law.

In August 2022, the 11 convicts, serving a life sentence, were granted premature release from jail after the Gujarat government accepted their remission applications in accordance with its 1992 policy, citing their ‘good conduct’ during imprisonment. The convicts hail from Singvad and Randhikpur villages under Singvad taluka of Dahod district neighbouring Panchmahal district, where Godhra is located.

The top court had on January 8 annulled the remission the Gujarat government had granted to the convicts while slamming the state for being “complicit” with an accused and abusing its discretion.

The SC then ordered the convicts, who were released from Godhra district jail on Independence Day in 2022 after being in prison for 14 years, to go back to jail within two weeks. They surrendered before Godhra jail authorities on January 21. Quashing the remission order, the Supreme Court had ruled that the Gujarat government lacked jurisdiction to grant premature release to the convicts as the trial in the 2002 case had been held in Maharashtra.

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Roy Walsh

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