The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Gujarat government to pay a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to gangrape survivor Bilkis Bano who along with her family was attacked by a mob during the 2002 riots in the state.
The apex court also directed the state government to provide Bilkis Bano, a government job and accommodation as per rules.
Bano in a plea before the top court had sought exemplary compensation from the state government, refusing to accept its offer of Rs 5 lakh.
Earlier in March, the Supreme Court had asked the Gujarat government to take disciplinary action in two weeks against the erring police officials, including an IPS officer, convicted by the Bombay High Court in the sensational Bilkis Bano gang rape case during the 2002 riots in the state.
The top court, also terming the Rs 5 lakh compensation offered by the Gujarat government ‘interim’, said the plea for exemplary compensation will be heard on April 23.
At the outset, Advocate Shobha Gupta, appearing for Bano, had said that no action had been taken by the state government against the erring officials, who were convicted by the high court.
She said that one IPS officer, currently serving in Gujarat is set to retire this year, while in case of four other officials who have retired no action has been taken against them like stopping of their pensions and retirement benefits.
The counsel further said that these police officers were convicted by the high court for botching up the investigation in the case.
With regard to compensation, she contended that Bano has been leading almost a nomadic life after being subjected to gruesome crime and therefore exemplary compensation should be granted.
Gupta said she is not willing to accept the interim compensation of Rs 5 lakh offered by the state government.
Bilkis, five months pregnant at that time, was gangraped while six other members of her family managed to escape from the mob. The trial in the case initially began in Ahmedabad.
However, after Bano expressed apprehensions that the witnesses could be harmed and the CBI evidence tampered with, the apex court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.
The high court had on May 4, 2017, convicted seven people — five policemen and two doctors — under sections 218 (not performing their duties) and section 201 (tampering of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The top court had on July 10, 2017, dismissed the appeals of two doctors and four policemen, including an IPS officer R S Bhagora, challenging their conviction by the high court saying there was “clear-cut evidence” against them. One of the officers did not appeal.
A special court had on 21 January 2008 convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for raping Bano and murdering seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra riots while acquitting seven persons including the policemen and doctors.
The convicts had later approached the Bombay High Court challenging their conviction and sought the quashing and setting aside of the trial court.
The CBI had also filed an appeal in the high court seeking harsher punishment of death for three of the convicted persons on the ground that they were the main perpetrators of the crime.
According to the prosecution, on March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad.
The convicts had challenged the order on three main grounds that all evidence in the case was fabricated by CBI, that Bilkis gave birth to a child after the incident, proving that she could not have been gangraped, and the failure to find the bodies of some of her family members which proved that they were not killed.
(With PTI inputs)