The Bombay High Court Thursday rejected an application filed by the lawyer of the convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape case seeking re-examination of some of the witnesses. A division bench of justices V K Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar said it can’t entertain such an application at a stage when the trial is over and appeals are being heard. Defence lawyer Harshad Ponda had sought the permission to re-examine prosecution witnesses K N Sinha, who led the CBI team which probed the case, Bilkis’ nephew Saddam, who was eight-years-old at the time of the incident, and Budhsingh Patel, a ‘writer constable’ at Limkheda police station who wrote down the first FIR lodged by Bilkis.
Ponda also wanted to call a new witness, Mangal Singh, another ‘writer constable’ at Limkheda police station. He wanted to re-examine the witnesses because the defence lawyers had made some mistakes during the trial and overlooked certain significant facts when cross-examining, he said.
CBI lawyer Hiten Venegaonkar opposed the application, saying it had come at a “belated stage”. Law does not allow calling of new witness or re-examination of a witness at a stage when the defence has concluded its arguments in the appeal, Venegaonkar said.