Bilkis Bano gangrape case: Bombay High Court upholds life term of 11 accused; rejects death penalty plea filed by CBI

Sriparna Ghosh
Bilkis Yakub Rasool, holds her six-month-old daughter Fatima, during a news conference in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, August 8, 2004.

The Bombay High Court on Thursday, May 4 dismissed the appeal filed by 11 accused in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case that had occurred in 2002, and upheld the life sentence order of the trial court.

The convicts had been sentenced in 2008. The court has said that it will consider the  jailed period of the convicts as part of the sentence that had been given to them but will impose a fine on them.

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Justice V K Tahilramani and Justice Mridula Bhatkar of the Bombay High Court also turned down the plea of the CBI seeking death penalty for three accused— Jaswantbai Nai, Govindbhai Nai and Radhesham Shah— and convicted seven others who were previously acquitted by the lower court.

According to Hiten Venegaonkar, who appeared for the CBI, the gangrape of the five-month pregnant Bano who was 19 years old back in 2002 and the mass murder of 14 members of her family including her two-year-old daughter, her mother Halima, cousin Shamim and a few babies who were just months old belonged to the "rarest of rare" category and warranted the maximum punishment.

bombay high court, provoked in the name of religion

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The court accepted the CBI's other plea and reversed the acquittal of five Gujarat police officers and two doctors in the case. The CBI said that the policemen were hand in glove with the convicts. They said that the cops had tampered with the documentary evidence in the case.

The trial had started in Ahmedabad but the Supreme Court shifted the matter to Maharashtra when Bano and her family started receiving threats to give up the case. Bano requested the case to be shifted outside Gujarat as she feared that witnesses might be intimidated, influenced, and even harmed.