The Supreme Court on Friday granted six weeks to the Gujarat government to inform whether any disciplinary action had been taken against police officers convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape case. The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud allowed Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta’s request for more time to seek instructions.
Bano’s counsel opposed the demand saying: “This is digital India. Why does the state need so much time to get an information from Gujarat to Delhi?” The counsel requested the court to hear both her pleas, regarding compensation and action against the police officers, at the earliest. Justice Chandrachud assured the counsel that her plea for compensation will be taken up next week.
The CJI added that the court was already burdened with several matters but will surely hear the counsel and listed the matter for hearing in the first week of January. On October 23, the apex court had given the state time to inform whether any departmental action had been initiated or taken against police officers whose conviction was upheld in case.
Bombay High Court had on May 4 upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the gangrape case, while setting aside the acquittal of seven people, including policemen and doctors. A pregnant Bilkis Bano was gangraped on March 3, 2002, in Randhikpur village while fleeing the violence in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning. Fourteen members of her family were killed.
The trial court, while sentencing 11 persons to life imprisonment on January 21, 2008, had acquitted five police officers and two government doctors, giving them the benefit of doubt. The convicts appealed to the high court against the trial court order. The HC order referred to the laxity and failures of the police in registering and investigating the case.
It upheld the convictions and also set aside the acquittal of the five police officers, finding them guilty under Section 218 (public servant framing incorrect record with intent to save person from punishment) and Section 201 (tampering with evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The convicted policemen are Narpat Singh, Idris Abdul Saiyed, Bikabhai Patel, Ramsingh Bhabhor, Ramanbhai Bhagora, and the doctors are Arun Kumar Prasad and Sangeeta Kumar Prasad.