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Bilkis Bano Case: SC Asks Guj Govt to Take Action Against Cops

Bombay HC had convicted seven people – five policemen and two doctors – under Sections 218 and 201 of the IPC.     

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The Supreme Court on Friday, 29 March, asked the Gujarat government to complete disciplinary action against erring police officials convicted by the Bombay High Court in the 2002 Bilkis Bano case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it will hear on 23 April Bano's plea seeking enhanced compensation. Bano, before the bench also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, refused to accept Rs 5 lakh compensation offered by the Gujarat government.

On 4 May 2017, the Bombay High Court convicted seven people – five policemen and two doctors – under Section 218 (not performing their duties) and Section 201 (tampering of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

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The Bilkis Bano Case

On 3 March 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Dahod during the post-Godhra riots; 14 members of her family were killed. Bilkis who was five months pregnant at the time was gang-raped by the mob and left to die.

Bilkis had approached the National Human Rights Commission and petitioned the Supreme Court.

The SC directed the CBI to take over the case and the trial started in Ahmedabad. However, after Bilkis expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and CBI evidence could be tampered, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

In its sentence on 4 May 2017, the Bombay High Court reversed a trial court verdict of 21 January 2008 and convicted IPS officer Ramsingh Bhabhor, police personnel Narpat Singh, Idris Abdul Saiyed, Bikabhai Patel , Sombhai Gori along with Dr Arun Kumar Prasad and Dr Sangeeta Kumar Prasad for not performing their duties and tampering evidence.

The court also directed each of the convicts to pay Rs 55,000 as compensation to Bilkis Bano

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Charges Against Cops And Doctors

The Bombay High Court in its verdict clearly stated that it did not need any other proof to infer that cops from Limkheda Police Station in Dahod (where the case was filed) wanted to suppress the fact that Bilkis was raped.

The Court also added that neither the survivor’s supplementary statement was recorded immediately by Limkheda police nor was she immediately sent for medical examination on the same day. The verdict further stated that the cops hurried with the post-mortem and buried the body with sacks filled with salt to expedite the decomposition process.

The court in its verdict stated that not only did the two doctors casually conduct the post-mortem but also omitted material information from its report. The court also stated that in the Panchnama the doctors only mentioned injury to private parts of one deceased.

The court further noted that on observing the photographs of the deceased women it was clear that they were sexually abused before they were slaughtered.

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Delay in Disciplinary Action

Meanwhile on 30 May 2017, a vacation bench of the SC refused to stay the conviction of an IPS officer Ramsingh Bhabhor stating that there is no urgency in hearing the matter as the convicted officer has already undergone the sentence.

In his plea, Bhagora, who is currently serving in Gujarat stated that if the conviction is not stayed, then he will be terminated from the service as per service rules.

On 25 November 2017 the Supreme Court granted six weeks to the Gujarat government to explain whether any disciplinary action has been initiated against policemen convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang-rape case.

The bench, however, made it clear that the apex court had already granted time, on 23 October, to the state government to apprise it of any departmental action that had been initiated or taken against police officers whose conviction was upheld in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case.

Finally on 12 March 2018 the SC gave the Gujarat government a final chance to file the status report on the disciplinary actions taken against the convicted cops and gave the state six more weeks to submit its reply.

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(With inputs from PTI)

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