Bilkis Banu Case: Convict Released For Good Behaviour Was Charged For Outraging Woman's Modesty In 2020

One of the accused Mitesh Chimanial Bhat has been booked under sections 354,504,506 of the IPC while he was out on parole in June 2020.

Soon after the eleven convicts in the Bilkis Banu case were released from prison on August 15 citing the remission norms of the 1992 policy, Banu released a statement condemning the early release and expressing safety and security concerns. However, the media was filled with reports the convicts were released on account of their good conduct. 

On Tuesday, when the voluminous affidavit was filed by the Gujarat government, it not only substantiated that good behaviour facilitated the release of all the accused in the 1992 gang rape case but also pointed to the fact that the remission of their sentence on completion of 14 years had the seal of the Modi government. 

As more and more information from the bulky affidavit is getting revealed to the public, the early release of the convicts based on good conduct is sounding rather paradoxical in letter and spirit. 

Why do we say so

Well, one of the annexures to the affidavit is out in the public domain. It is a letter written to the collector and the District Magistrate seeking their opinion on the early release of the convicts in the Bilkis Banu case. Ironically, the letter gives a clean chit to one of the accused Mitesh Chimanial Bhatt stating that he has not been involved in any act of communal conflict during his time out on parole. However, the letter also brings out an ugly incident to light. According to the contents of the letter, the rape accused Bhatt was involved in a case wherein he was charged with outraging the modesty of a woman in June 2020. 

The pending case against rape accused Bhatt released for good conduct

Bhatt has been booked under sections 354,504,506 of the IPC. The said sections deal with criminal intimidation coupled with the intention to insult the other person. Although the case details are unknown, the charge under the specific section 354 points to a likely unceremonious brawl between a woman and the accused Bhatt. 

For the unversed, Section 354 under IPC is carved to deal with cases where the accused uses criminal force or assaults any woman with the intention to outrage her modesty. The case in the Dahod district is pending, and the outcome might result in jail for up to two years for the accused.

It will be interesting to see the counter-reply to the state government's affidavit which has given substantial ground to the petitioners to make a strong case to oppose the early release of the rape-accused convicts. More importantly, did the authorities miss the detail while giving their no objection or was the particular piece of information not important enough when deciding the contours of good behaviour for the convicts?

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