Bilkis Bano was pregnant when she was assaulted during the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002
Hearing a petition by Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped during the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Supreme Court today questioned the Gujarat government on policemen who were convicted but are still in service. The court also allowed Bilkis Bano to apply for more compensation than what was announced by lower courts.
The Supreme Court asked whether any departmental action had been taken against the five policemen whose acquittal was reversed by the Bombay High Court.
Bilkis Bano was 19 and pregnant when she was assaulted during the communal riots across Gujarat in the aftermath of the burning of train riders in Godhra in February 2002.
The policemen were convicted of botching up the initial investigation into the Bilkis Bano case. Policemen and doctors found guilty in the case cannot remain in service, the top court said, asking Gujarat to get back within four weeks on the action taken against them.
The Gujarat government has said that action was indeed taken against the policemen, a claim that Bilkis Bano has contested in court.
The attack on Bilkis Bano's family was one of the worst single cases in the Gujarat riots. They were attacked by a mob near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002, and 14 members of her family massacred. The youngest was Bilkis Bano's two-year-old Saleha whose head was smashed against a rock.
Local policemen are accused of various mess-ups like taking down Bilkis Bano's statement four times - a different version each time - and making her attest it with a thumb print.
In May, one of the convicted police officers, RS Bhagora, approached the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court's verdict in the Bilkis Bano case, but the top court refused to stay the conviction.