The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the appeal of Gujarat Police officer Ramabhai Bhagora, three other policemen and two doctors challenging Bombay High Court order convicting them in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case that took place during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Rejecting the plea by Bhagora, Arunkumar Ramkrishan Prasad, Narpatsingh Ranchodbhai Patel and the others, a bench of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageswara Rao observed that the trial court had unreasonably acquitted them.
The Bombay High Court, while convicting Bhagora along with the other policemen and two medicos, had sentenced them to the jail sentence that they had already undergone and imposed a fine of Rs 15,000. While rejecting CBI’s plea seeking the death sentence for three of the 11 convicts who were sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court in the case, it had set aside the acquittal of these policemen and two medicos which had been challenged by the CBI.
The policemen were charged with tampering of evidence by fudging documents and compromising the inquest panchnama (diary).
Bilkis was 19 years old and pregnant when she was subjected to the horror during the 2002 Gujarat riots.The horrifying incidents occurred in Randhikpur village near Dahod on March 3, 2002 when she and around a dozen of her family members were attacked by a mob. Many of those attacked were killed.
Only Bilkis Bano and two relatives, Saddam and Husain, survived while her mother, sister, minor daughter and other relatives were killed.
Holding the accused guilty of murder, gang rape and raping a pregnant woman, the trial court by its January 21, 2008 verdict had sentenced Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Bhagwan Das Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni, Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana to life terms.
The CBI had moved the High Court seeking death sentence for three – Govind Nai, Sailesh Bhat and Jaswant Nai. Bhatt was accused of killing Bilkis Bano’s 3-year-old daughter by pounding her head with a stone, resulting in her instant death.