Bilkis Bano gangrape: Bombay HC upholds 2008 trial court verdict, convicts five policemen

Fifteen years after a woman, Bilkis Bano, was gangraped during the 2002 Godhra riots in Gujarat, the Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the 2008 trial court verdict convicting 11 people and sentencing them to life imprisonment. The court also convicted five Gujarat police officers and two doctors, who were earlier acquitted by the trial court, charging them with tampering of evidence.

"The appeal against conviction filed by the 11 convicts (one convict is dead) is dismissed. The conviction and sentence is upheld," a division bench of Justices VK Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar said.

The 11 convicted 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.

"We will consider the undergone period in jail of these seven persons as their sentence. But we will impose a fine amount of them," the court said today.

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).

The court had last year reserved its judgement in the appeals filed by 11 persons convicted in the case and also the appeal filed by CBI for capital punishment to three of them.

Bombay High Court. Reuters

File image of the Bombay High Court. Reuters

However, in a set back to Bilkis Bano, the high court rejected the CBI demand for awarding the death penalty for three of the 11 accused in the crime, NDTV reported.

The three — Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, and Sailesh Bhatt — were accused by CBI of having raped Bilkis Bano.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, while delivering the judgement, the divisional bench also dismissed the argument fostered by the defence that Bilkis’ testimony was “bogus” and “full of contradictions”.

On 3 March 2002, she was gangraped while 14 members of her family, including her mother and child, were murdered by a rampaging mob in Randhikpura area of Ahmedabad. Bilkis was five months pregnant at the time.

A special court had on January 21, 2008 convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for gangraping Bilkis and murdering seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra riots. This was after the trial was shifted to Mumbai in August 2004 after Bilkis expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and CBI evidence tampered.

The convicts later approached the high court here challenging their conviction and sought for the trial court's order to be quashed and set aside. The CBI had also filed an appeal in the high court seeking harsher punishment of death for three of the convicted persons on the ground that they were the main perpetrators of the crime.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: May 04, 2017 13:59 PM

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