Supreme Court asks Gujarat government to take action against cops convicted in Bilkis Bano rape case

On Friday, March 29, the Supreme Court asked the Gujarat state government to complete disciplinary action against police officials who were previously convicted by the Bombay High Court in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case, PTI reported. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna also said that it would hear Bilkis Bano’s plea seeking increased compensation on Monday, April 23. She has refused the Rs. 5 lakh that the Gujarat government had offered.

Bilkis Bano

In May 2017, the Bombay High Court upheld life imprisonment for the 11 men, who had been convicted by a special trial court, and also convicted five police officials and two doctors, who had previously been acquitted by the special court. They were found guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 218 (not performing their duties) and 201 (tampering of evidence). The court dismissed the appeal filed by the 11 people sentenced to life imprisonment, challenging their conviction. The court also dismissed the CBI’s appeal seeking death sentences for three of the accused.

Later that year, in July 2017, the Supreme Court dismissed appeals filed by two doctors and four policemen, saying that they had been unreasonably acquitted, and stating, “You all have been unreasonably acquitted by the trial court in the case despite there being clear-cut evidence against you,” PTI noted. Scroll reported that IPS office R. S. Bhagora, one of the four officials, had sought a stay on his conviction, saying that he could be removed from the service. However, the Supreme Court rejected his plea, noting that he was the supervising officer for the botched probe

In October 2017, the Supreme Court had asked the Gujarat government about why police officers who had been convicted were reinstated, and asked if any action had been taken against the officials who had bungled the investigation.

Bilkis Bano was attacked in the days following the Godhra train burning in 2002 that set off communal violence across Gujarat, and several thousand families were traveling to safer areas, including that of Bilkis Bano, India Today reported in 2017. 17 members of the family were traveling by truck when they were attacked by rioters near Randhikpur village, which is close to Ahmedabad. 14 people were killed, and Bilkis Bano, who was then 19 years old and pregnant, was gang-raped. Following this, Bilkis Bano had petitioned the Supreme Court, and also approached the National Human Rights Commission. The case was eventually transferred from Gujarat to Mumbai in August 2004, and in January 2008, the special trial court found 13 of the 20 accused guilty, and handed out life sentences to 11 people. India Today has noted that with this judgment, “the Bilkis Bano case became the first case of rape linked to riots in which conviction happened since Independence.”



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