The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the Gujarat government about why police officers convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape case were reinstated, the Hindustan Times reported. The bench asked whether any departmental action had been taken against the officers found guilty of botching up the investigation in the case.
Indian Police Service officer RS Bhagora, who is currently serving in Gujarat, had sought a stay on the Bombay High Court’s conviction order from May 4, claiming that he could be terminated from service. However, on July 10, the Supreme Court had dismissed his plea, highlighting that Bhagora was the supervising officer of the investigation that was mishandled. Along with Bhagora, the Supreme Court had also dismissed petitions filed by three other policemen and two doctors.
A group of men had raped Bano on March 3, 2002, during the riots in Gujarat. She was 19 and pregnant at the time. Fourteen members of her family, including her three-year-old, were murdered by the rioters near Ahmedabad. Bano had identified her rapists, and the trial was transferred out of Gujarat for fear that witnesses may be influenced. Twelve people were convicted in the case and given life terms by a trial court in Mumbai in January 2008.
Bano had approached the Supreme Court and sought higher compensation than the Rs 20,000 that the convicts were asked to pay her. She had also petitioned against the reinstatement of the police officers and doctors convicted in the case.
On Monday, the Supreme Court asked the Gujarat government for a detailed reply on the status of the action taken against convicted authorities within four weeks. The bench also asked Bilkis Bano to file a special leave petition if she wanted higher compensation from the state government, ANI reported.
On May 4, the Bombay High Court had upheld a trial court’s January 2008 verdict that sentenced the 11 surviving convicts in the case to life imprisonment. The bench, however, said that since they had already already spent four and half years in custody before the trial, they should be let go.