Bilkis Bano Rape Case: Bombay HC Upholds Life Sentence of Convicts

On 3 March 2002, at the height of the Gujarat riots, Bilkis Bano and her family were attacked by a mob.

The Bombay High Court on 4 May upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the March 2002 Bilkis Bano gang-rape case. It also set aside the acquittal of 7 persons, including policemen and doctors.

The court also dismissed an appeal filed by the CBI seeking death penalty for three of the convicts.

"The appeal against conviction filed by the 11 convicts (one convict is dead) is dismissed. The conviction and sentence is upheld," a division bench of Justice VK Tahilramani and Justice Mridula Bhatkar said.

"The appeal filed by the prosecution against the acquittal of seven persons (in the case) is allowed. The acquittal is set aside," the court said.

The bench said the seven convicts, which include five policemen and two doctors, are convicted under Sections 218 (not performing their duties) and Section 201 (tampering of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code.

"We will consider the undergone period in jail of these seven persons as their sentence. But we will impose a fine amount of them," the court said on Thursday.

What is the Case?

On 3 March 2002, at the height of the Gujarat riots following the Godhra train burning, Bilkis Bano and her family members were attacked by a riotous mob in Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad.

Bano, along with 14 members of her family, was trying to escape from her riot-struck village of Randhikpur, when the violent mob massacred her family members.

Bano, who was six months pregnant at the time, was brutally gang-raped.

The trial in the case began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bilkis expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and CBI evidence tampered, Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

Now 18 people stand convicted in the case.

(With inputs from PTI)