Mumbai: A gangrape victim in the aftermath of the 2002 Godhra riots has pleaded before the Bombay High Court to consider her arguments while hearing an appeal by the CBI seeking death penalty for three of the 11 convicts in the case.
Bilkis Bano filed an intervening application through her advocate Vijay Hiremath before a division bench of Justices V K Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar which is hearing the appeals filed by the convicts.
Eleven men, who were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court here on January 21, 2008 for gangraping Bilkis and murdering seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra riots, had approached the HC challenging their conviction and sought for the trial court’s order to be quashed and set aside.
CBI had also filed an appeal in the HC seeking death penalty for three of the convicts.
Bilkis in her application has sought that the court also consider her arguments against the convicts.
The bench is likely to consider the application when it starts hearing the appeal filed by CBI.
According to the prosecution, on March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the post-Godhra riots and seven members of her family were killed.
Bilkis, who was five months pregnant at the time, was gangraped while six other members of her family managed to escape from the mob.
The trial in the case began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bilkis expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and CBI evidence tampered, Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.
The convicted persons are: Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana.
The convicts have challenged the order on three main grounds – that all evidence in the case was fabricated by CBI, that Bilkis gave birth to a child after the incident, thus, the same proved that she could not have been gangraped, and the failure to discover the bodies of some of her family members proves that they were not killed.
The CBI has sought enhancement of punishment for three of them – Jaswantbhai, Govindbhai and Radhesham Shah – on the ground that they had raped Bilkis.