Today Bombay high court rejected the life imprisonment of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano rape and murder case. The court also dismissed an appeal filed by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking the death penalty for three of the convicts. Court has also set aside the acquittal of five policemen in the same case and directed the Central Bureau of Investigation agency to probe them.
The court said “The appeal filed by the prosecution against the acquittal of seven persons (in the case) is allowed. The acquittal is set aside,”. The bench said the seven persons, which includes five policemen and two doctors, are convicted under sections 218 (not performing their duties) and section 201 (tampering of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Justice wins – 5 police officers convicted for collusion in Gujarat riots victim Bilkis Bano's rape 1/n https://t.co/6ahQcxo3s4
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) May 4, 2017
On March 3, 2002, at the height of the Gujarat riots following the Godhra train burning, Bilkis Bano and her family members were attacked by a riotous mob in Devgad-Baria village near Dahod.
In this attack, eight members of the family were killed, including four women and four children, while six went missing. Bilkis was gang-raped even while she was visibly pregnant.
The special court sentenced 11 persons to life imprisonment in the case on January 21, 2008. The court had convicted Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Bhagwan Das Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana. They were held guilty of murder, gang rape and raping a pregnant woman.
The trial court had sentenced head constable Somabhai Gori of the Limkheda police station to three-year imprisonment for framing false records and refusing to lodge Bilkis Bano’s first complaint.
The CBI had sought the death penalty even before the trial court for Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai and Shailesh Bhatt, who were charged with raping Bilkis. Bhatt was the man who killed her 3-year-old child in a pre-planned attack in the wake of a bandh to protest the Godhra train burning incident.
In October 2016, the CBI had stated that the depraved act of gang raping a pregnant woman and multiple murders, including an infant and a tiny tot, amounted to the rarest of rare case, and pleaded for the death sentence for three of the convicts in the case.
The Bombay High Court today upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case while setting aside the acquittal of seven persons including policemen and doctors.