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Activist Teesta Setalvad welcomes judgement on Bilkis Bano case

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Commenting on the recent verdict of the Bombay High Court on the Bilkis Bano rape case, social activist Teesta Setalvad on Thursday asserted that convicting five police officers and rejecting the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) plea for death penalty to three convicts was a welcome decision.

“The judgement of Division branch of Bombay High Court recognising the culpability of police officers, who had been acquitted by the lower court and rejecting the CBI’s plea for death penalty to three out of eleven convicts in the case is a welcome decision,” social activist Teesta Setalvad told ANI.

She further said that these police officers had destroyed evidence, which would have helped in more convictions in the case.

The Bombay High Court had earlier ruled out death penalty to three out of 11 people accused of in the case and the murder of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The CBI said that five new convicts in this case were police officers and were convicted under Indian Penal Code (IPC) 201 and 218.

The Bombay High Court had also set aside acquittal of five persons, including doctors and policemen, and convicted them for tampering of evidence in the Bilkis Bano case.

The CBI had appealed against the acquittal of five Gujarat police officers who connived with the convicts by fudging documents and compromising the inquest report.

Last year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) named it as the rarest of rare cases and that the death penalty must be awarded to three convicts.

The 11 convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in 2008, had moved the Gujarat high court against their conviction.

The Supreme Court later moved the case from Gujarat high court to Bombay court, which upheld the conviction of the 11.

On March 1, 2002, Bilkis Bano was gang-raped and left for dead alongside 14 members of her family, including her 3-year-old daughter, during the Gujarat riots. She was then five months pregnant, when Hindu rioters attacked her in Vadodara. (ANI)