The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Gujarat government to reply whether any departmental action had been initiated against police officers who were convicted in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case.
“The Gujarat government shall apprise this court if any disciplinary action was taken against the police officers,” a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said. The court gave the state government four weeks to file its reply.
The direction came on a plea by Bano seeking enhancement of compensation awarded to her and initiation of departmental action against the guilty officers.
On her plea for greater compensation, the court said she will have to challenge the original order awarding the same and allowed her to file an SLP for this.
The Bombay High Court had on May 4 upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the gangrape case. It had set aside the acquittal of seven people, including five policemen and two doctors.
Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village, near Ahmedabad, on March 3, 2002 during the post-Godhra riots. Seven members of her family were killed. She was 19 at the time, and was five months pregnant. She was gangraped; six other members of the family escaped the mob.
Trial in the case began in Ahmedabad. However, the apex court transferred it to Mumbai in August 2004 after Bano expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and CBI evidence tampered with.
Sentencing 11 people to life imprisonment on January 21, 2008, the trial court had acquitted the five police officials and two government doctors after giving them the benefit of doubt. The convicts went in appeal to the HC against the trial court’s order.
The HC order referred to the laxity and failures of the police in registration of the case and subsequent investigation.
The convicts put up the defence that the CBI, which investigated the case, had fabricated evidence, and that Bano, who was five months pregnant at the time of the crime, had given birth to a child after the incident. They argued that this would not have been possible if the gangrape had indeed taken place.
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).