Bilkis Bano Rape Case: No Death Penalty For Convicts, Says Bombay High Court

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Bilkis Bano Rape Case: No Death Penalty For Convicts, Says Bombay High Court

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Bilkis Bano case: Bombay High Court says no death penalty for her rapists

Mumbai: 

Highlights

  1. Bilkis Bano gang-raped during Gujarat riots; she was 19 and pregnant
  2. 14 of her family members, including her daughter, were murdered
  3. CBI had sought death penalty for three out of 11 convicted in the case
The Bombay High Court has turned down the CBI's request for the death penalty to three men accused of gangraping Bilkis Bano, a 19-year-old pregnant woman, and brutally murdering 14 members of her family, including her three-old daughter, in Randhikpur near Ahmedabad, during the Gujarat riots of 2002.  

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had told court that this was a "rarest of rare case" and that the death penalty must be awarded to three out of 11 people convicted in the case, to send out a "stern message." A trial court in Mumbai had sentenced all of them to life imprisonment, which the High Court upheld today.   

The High Court has, however, accepted the CBI's other plea to reverse the acquittal of five Gujarat police officers and two doctors in the case.  The agency has alleged that the policemen connived with the convicts by "fudging documents and compromising the inquest panchnama." A total of 19 people were convicted by the court today.

The CBI had sought the death penalty for Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, and Sailesh Bhatt , saying there was direct evidence that they brutally gangraped Bilkis, who was five months pregnant, and her sister and her mother. Sailesh Bhatt also allegedly snatched Bilkis' three-year-old daughter from her and crushed her head on a stone. The child died on the spot.

Bilkis's mother and sister were among the 14 of her family and 17 people from the village killed by the rioters on March 3, 2002.  Bilkis Bano, who lives in central Gujarat with her husband, had identified her rapists.

Comments
The trial was transferred out of Gujarat for the fear that witnesses might be intimidated or influenced.

The trial court had in January 2008, convicted 12 people, sentencing them to life imprisonment. They had all appealed against their conviction in the High Court. One of them has since died.

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