Bilkis Bano case warrants more stringent punishment: Popular Front

The statement issued by Popular Front of India Headquarters after the meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) welcomed the verdict of the Bombay High Court upholding life imprisonment of eleven persons convicted for gang-raping of pregnant Bilkis Bano and massacring her 14 family members in the 2002 Gujarat Genocide. It is further positive that the High Court has convicted the polices officers whom the trial court had acquitted. The meeting observed that the gravity of the incident warranted more stringent punishment to all those involved in the heinous crime. While going with the tradition of court verdicts in similar cases, the punishment given in the Bilkis Bano case is inadequate. The latest Supreme Court judgement that confirmed the death-sentence of the convicts in 2012 Nirbhaya case shows that the judiciary would grant maximum punishment in gang-rape cases. The council demanded the government to move the Supreme Court in Bilkis Bano case to ensure exemplary punishment to all involved in the crime.

In the case of Justice Karnan who was adjudged to be guilty of contempt of court, and sentenced to serve 6 months imprisonment by the Supreme Court, the statement wished that the Apex Court could have exercised restraint while moving against a sitting High Court Judge who has raised criticisms against the conduct of his colleagues in judiciary. A few questions such as, should the Supreme Court have referred the matter to the Parliament for considering impeachment and should the Supreme Court have dropped the proceedings till his retirement, arise in this issue. Moreover, banning the media from publishing Justice Karnan’s statements amounts to judicial censorship, and it is an attempt to silence criticism of any kind. The statement also asked the legal circles and the civil society at large to look in to the charges of corruption among the judges and caste discrimination rampant in judiciary as alleged by Justice Karnan.

Referring to the meeting of the delegation that met the Prime Minister under the initiative of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, the council opined that leaders belonging to different sections of the Muslim community would have moved along with the unanimous decisions of three representative meetings held previously in this regard. From media reports, it is learned that the said meeting was not called by the Prime Minister, but it was as per the request from the Jamiat Ulema leadership. In the backdrop of the ongoing assaults on Muslims all over India by Sangh Parivar goons under the BJP government patronage, the Muslim community has the right to know what specific steps the Prime Minister has assured for removing fear and insecurity that they have imposed upon the Muslims.

The NEC of Popular Front appealed the people to cooperate wholeheartedly with the working fund collection drive, now being carried out by the organization in all States.

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