The Supreme Court on Monday expressed surprise over the re-employment of policemen and doctors convicted by the Bombay high court of suppressing and tampering with evidence in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case, and sought answers from the Gujarat government.
During the 2002 post-Godhra communal riots, Bilkis was gang-raped and several of her family members were murdered. Local police had filed a closure report in the case. The SC had quashed the closure report and ordered the CBI to probe the case afresh. The CBI charged 18 people, including five policemen and two doctors. The trial court convicted 11 and awarded them life imprisonment, while acquitting the policemen and doctors. On the CBI’s appeal, the HC convicted the seven.
Appearing in the case, advocate Shobha drew the attention of a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud to the fact that, among the seven, two policemen and two doctors were re-employed by the Gujarat government despite their conviction.
In the riot incident related to the Bilkis Bano case, as many as 14 people were murdered, but only seven bodies recovered. Shobha said the rape survivor was awarded a meagre compensation by the trial court, which had asked the convicts to pay Rs 2,000 each to Bilkis. The HC did not enhance the compensation, she added. The bench said the petition filed in 2003 had sought a re-investigation into the case and that had been done. “If the victim wants enhancement of compensation, she must challenge the HC order,” it said.