The Bombay High Court on Thursday rejected a CBI plea that sought death sentence for at least 3 of the 11 convicts in the March 2002 Bilkis Bano gang-rape case in Gujarat.

The court further set aside the acquittal of five policemen for evidence tampering and directed the CBI to probe them.

Last year, CBI told the court that this was a rarest of rare case and that death penalty must be awarded to 3 convicts — Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, and Sailesh Bhatt — to send out a stern message.

On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano along with 16 others were attacked by a mob near Dahod district’s Devgarh Baria village in Gujarat, in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage.

At least eight people from Bilkis’ family were killed in this attack while six people reportedly went missing. Bilkis along with two of her family members Hussain and Sadaam survived the incident.

In 2008, a special court in Mumbai had awarded lifetime imprisonment to Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Shah, Bipin Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya and Bakabhai Vohania in connection with the case.