Bilkis Bano case: SC directs Gujarat govt to give her Rs 50 lakh compensation, job, accommodation

A bench headed by Chief Justice Rajan Gogoi was informed by the Gujarat government that action has been taken against the erring police officials in the case.

The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, was informed by the state’s counsel that pension benefits of the erring officials have been stopped and the IPS officer who was convicted by the Bombay High Court in the case has been demoted by two ranks.

Bano had earlier refused to accept the offer of Rs 5 lakh and had sought exemplary compensation from the state government in a plea before the top court.

The top court had on March 29 asked the state government to take disciplinary action within two weeks against all the erring police officials.

Advocate Shobha Gupta, appearing for Bano, told the apex court earlier that no action had been taken by the state government against the officials convicted by the high court.

She had said that one IPS officer, currently serving in Gujarat is set to retire this year, while in case of four other officials who have retired no action has been taken against them like stopping pensions and retirement benefits.

The counsel had further said that these police officers were convicted by the high court for botching up the investigation in the case.

With regard to compensation, she had contended that Bano has been leading almost a nomadic life after being subjected to gruesome crime and therefore exemplary compensation should be granted.

Senior advocate Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government had said that disciplinary proceedings are going on against the erring police officials.

On the compensation part, Mehta had said that state government has a policy of granting Rs 5 lakh as compensation in such incidents.

According to the prosecution, on March 3, 2002 Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad in the aftermath of the Godhra riots.

Bilkis, five months pregnant at that time, was gang raped and some members of her family killed. The trial in the case initially began in Ahmedabad.

However, after Bano expressed apprehensions that the witnesses could be harmed and the CBI evidence tampered with, the apex court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

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

The high court, on May 4, 2017, convicted seven people — five policemen and two doctors — under sections 218 (not performing their duties) and section 201 (tampering of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The top court had on July 10, 2017 dismissed the appeals of two doctors and four policemen, including an IPS officer R S Bhagora, challenging their conviction by the high court saying there was “clear-cut evidence” against them. One of the officers did not appeal.

The convicts had later approached the Bombay High Court and sought quashing and setting aside of the trial court’s conviction.

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.

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, proving that she could not have been gang raped, and the failure to find the bodies of some of her family members which proved that they were not killed.