SC refuses to stay conviction of IPS officer in Bilkis case

SC refuses to stay conviction of IPS officer in Bilkis case
SC refuses to stay conviction of IPS officer in Bilkis case

The Supreme Court today refused to stay the conviction of an IPS officer in the sensational 2002 Bilkis Bano case.

A vacation bench of Justices A K Sikri and Deepak Gupta said that there is no urgency for hearing the matter as the convicted officer has already undergone the sentence.

The bench, however, listed the matter for hearing in the second week of July, observing the fine is of Rs 15,000 only.

IPS officer R S Bhagora, currently serving in Gujarat, has been convicted along with four other policemen by the Bombay High Court recently after the trial court had acquitted them.

The counsel appearing for Bhagora said if the conviction is not stayed, then he will be terminated from the service as per service rules.

He said the court should grant stay on the conviction.

The Bombay High Court had on May 4 reversed the trial court verdict acquitting Bhagora and others and had upheld the conviction of 11 people (one convict is dead) in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case.

Along with five policemen, two doctors were also convicted by the HC.

The High Court bench had said that the seven persons — doctors and the policemen– are convicted under sections 218 (not performing their duties) and section 201 (tampering of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A special court had on 21 January, 2008 convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for raping Bilkis and murdering seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra riots while acquitting seven persons including the policemen and doctors.

The convicts later approached the Bombay high court 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.

According to the prosecution, on 3 March, 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 gang raped 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 the CBI evidence tampered, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

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 gang raped, and the failure to find the bodies of some of her family members proves that they were not killed.

( Source – PTI )

Bilkis case: Bombay HC upholds life sentence to 12, sets aside acquittal of seven

Bilkis case: Bombay HC upholds life sentence to 12, sets aside acquittal of seven
Bilkis case: Bombay HC upholds life sentence to 12, sets aside acquittal of seven

The Bombay High Court today upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case of the 2002 Gujarat riots while setting aside the acquittal of seven persons including policemen and doctors.

The court also dismissed an appeal filed by the CBI seeking death penalty for three of the convicts.

Bilkis, who was gang raped in March 2002 at a time when she was pregnant, said her rights as a woman, and mother were violated in the most brutal manner and the verdict “vindicated truth”, and “upheld” her faith in the judiciary.

Seven of her family members were also killed in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning incident.

A division bench of Justices V K Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar said, “The appeal against conviction filed by the 11 convicts (one of them is dead) is dismissed. The conviction and sentence is upheld.”

“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 seven persons, who include five policemen and two doctors, are convicted for not performing their duties (sections 218) and tampering of evidence (section 201) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the bench said.

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

Each of the seven persons, who was convicted, has been directed to pay a fine of Rs 20,000 within eight weeks.

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.

In a statement to the media, Bilkis said, “My rights, as a human being, as a citizen, woman, and mother were violated in the most brutal manner, but I had trust in the democratic institutions of our country. Now, my family and I feel we can begin to lead our lives again, free of fear.

“I am happy that the State and its officials who emboldened, encouraged, and protected the criminals who destroyed the life of an entire community, are no longer unblemished, but today stand charged with tampering of evidence. For officers of the state, whose sworn duty is to protect citizens and enable justice, this should be their great moral shame, to bear forever,” she added.

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.

A special court had on January 21, 2008, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment eleven men in the case.

They 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 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.

Bilkis, who was five months pregnant at the time, was gang-raped 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, the 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 evidences in the case were fabricated by CBI, that Bilkis gave birth to a child after the incident proving that she could not have been gang raped, and the failure to discover the bodies of some of her family members proved 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.

( Source – PTI )