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  India   All India  04 May 2017  No death sentence for Bilkis Bano’s rapists, rules Bombay HC

No death sentence for Bilkis Bano’s rapists, rules Bombay HC

AGE CORRESPONDENT WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Published : May 4, 2017, 11:26 am IST
Updated : May 4, 2017, 3:33 pm IST

Bilkis Bano, who was five months pregnant, was gangraed in the aftermath of the Godhra riots in 2002.

Bilkis Bano with family
 Bilkis Bano with family

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday ruled that no death sentence will be given to three out of 11 people convicted of raping Bilkis Bano, 19-year-old pregnant woman, and murdering seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra riots in 2002.

A mob had attacked Bilkis' family at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the post-Godhra riots on March 3, 2002.

 

Terming it as ‘rarest of rare’ case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had sought death penalty for three of the 11 convicts on the ground that they were the main perpetrators of the crime.

CBI had alleged that the three men had raped five-month pregnant Bilkis, her sister and her mother on March 3, 2002.

The CBI had also challenged the acquittal of five Gujarat police officers by the trial court, alleging that the policemen conspired with the convicts by ‘fudging documents and compromising the inquest panchnama.’

The High Court set aside the acquittal of seven persons including policemen and doctors.

"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 V K Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar said.

 

"The appeal filed by the prosecution against the acquittal of seven persons (in the case) is allowed. The acquittal is set aside," the court said.

The bench said the seven persons, which includes five policemen and two doctors, are convicted under sections 218 (not performing their duties) and section 201 (tampering of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

"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). Now 18 people stand convicted in the case.

 

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.

In January 2008, a special court had convicted and sentenced 11 men to life imprisonment in the case. The convicts later approached the HC and sought quashing of the trial court's order.

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 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.

 

The convicts had 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 find the bodies of some of her family members proves that they were not killed.

The CBI had sought enhancement of punishment for three of them- Jaswantbhai, Govindbhai and Radhesham Shah- on the grounds that they had raped Bilkis.

Tags: bilkis bano gangrape case, 2002 godhra riots, bombay high court
Location: India, Maharashtra, Mumbai (Bombay)