Ahmedabad: The Supreme Court on Friday granted six weeks time to the Gujarat government for apprising it on whether any disciplinary action has been initiated against policemen convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape case. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, considered the submission of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the state government, that some more time be given to get instruction on the authorities concerned in the case. The bench listed the plea for hearing in the first week of January.
The bench, however, made it clear that the separate plea, seeking enhancement of compensation to be awarded to Bilkis Bano, would be taken up next week for hearing. The apex court had already granted time, on October 23, to the state government to apprise it whether any departmental action had been initiated or taken against police officers whose conviction was upheld in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case.
The Bombay High Court had on May 4 upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the gangrape case, while setting aside the acquittal of seven people including policemen and doctors. Bilkis Bano, who was gangraped in March, 2002, while she was pregnant, lost seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning incident.
The bench had convicted seven persons, including five policemen and two doctors, for not performing their duties (sections 218) and tampering of evidence (section 201) under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The convicted policemen and doctors are Narpat Singh, Idris Abdul Saiyed, Bikabhai Patel, Ramsingh Bhabhor, Sombhai Gori, Arun Kumar Prasad (doctor) and Sangeeta Kumar Prasad (doctor).
A special court had on January 21, 2008, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men in the case. They later approached the Bombay High Court challenging their conviction and sought for the trial court’s order to be quashed. The CBI had also filed an appeal in the high court seeking harsher punishment of death for three of the convicted on the grounds that they were the main perpetrators of the crime.
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. The trial in the case began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bilkis Bano expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and CBI evidence tampered, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.