Finally, in 2008, a sessions court in Mumbai convicted 11 people in the case of gang rape and murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment. However, on August 15 this year, the Gujarat government released the rapists citing the 1992 exemption policy. Under this policy prisoners were allowed to apply for reduction of their sentence.
“Clearly this was done despite the objections raised by the CBI and the Special Judge (CBI) against the release of the convicts,” Maliwal said. There have also been reports in the media that some of Bilkis Bano’s rapists were charged with crimes like “outraging the dignity of women” when they were released on parole. Despite this, their sentence was commuted as the Union Home Ministry had also recommended the premature release of the convicts.
In another case, the Haryana government recently released on parole Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who is convicted of rape and murder and is serving a life sentence in Rohtak jail. Maliwal said, “It has been observed that the convict has been released several times during his imprisonment. This time, when he is on parole, he has done several ‘pravachan sabhas’ and released music videos promoting him.
The DCW chief said that “the existing rules and policies in the country regarding exemptions, parole and even furlough are very weak” and can be easily manipulated. In the letter, Maliwal has recommended a review of the laws and policies relating to parole and furlough.
In the letter, he has also recommended that the convicts in cases of rape, murder, smuggling, acid attack and heinous crimes against women and children should not be allowed exemption. “Besides parole and furlough only, convicts serving sentences in exceptional circumstances in such heinous offenses should be given strict conditions in rarest of rare cases and only for a few days,” Maliwal said.
The commission has recommended that the matter of premature release of rapists of Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Bilkis Bano be taken up with the respective State Governments and Ministry of Home Affairs so that the convicts serve their full sentence and the parole of Gurmeet Ram is cancelled.