2002 riots: Gujarat to give compensation, job & accommodation to Bilkis Bano
The Supreme Court on Monday (September 30) directed the Gujarat government within two weeks to give ₹50 lakh compensation, a job and an accommodation of choice to Bilkis Bano, who was gang raped when she was five months pregnant during the 2002 riots in the state.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the Gujarat government as to why it has not complied with the apex courts earlier order of April 23 and given the compensation to Bano. “Why has the compensation not been paid?,” the bench, also comprising justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer, asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the state.
At the outset, advocate Shobha Gupta, appearing for Bano, told the bench that despite the top courts order the Gujarat government has not provided anything to her. Mehta told the bench that compensation of ₹50 lakh was not provided in the victim compensation scheme of Gujarat, and the state would also like to file a plea seeking review of the top courts April order.
“No. Why you have not paid the compensation?,” the bench said, adding that “should we note in the order that the compensation has been ordered keeping in view the peculiar facts of the case”. Mehta agreed to this but said some more time was needed to provide her a job. “Even two weeks time is not needed,” the bench said.
Later, Mehta gave an undertaking to the court that the compensation, job and accommodation would be given to Bano within two weeks. The top court also clarified that its April order giving ₹50 lakh compensation, a job and an accommodation to Bano was passed keeping in view the peculiar facts of the case.
The bench disposed of the contempt plea of Bano alleging non-compliance of its order by the state and gave liberty to her to approach it incase of any difficulty. The top court had in April directed the state government to pay the compensation to Bano within two weeks.
It had also asked the state government to withdraw the pensionary benefits given to erring police officials involved in the case.
Bano had earlier refused to accept the offer of ₹5 lakh and sought an exemplary compensation from the state government in a plea before the top court. According to the prosecution, on March 3, 2002, Banos family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad in the aftermath of the Godhra riots. Bano, five months pregnant at that time, was gang raped and some members of her family killed. The trial in the case initially began in Ahmedabad.
However, after Bano expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and the CBI evidence could be tampered with, the Supreme Court had transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.
A special court on January 21, 2008 had convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for raping Bano and murdering seven of her family members, while acquitting seven persons, including the policemen and doctors. The convicts had later approached the Bombay High Court and sought quashing and setting aside of the trial courts conviction.
The high court, 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 IPS officer R S Bhagora, challenging their conviction by the high court, saying there was a “clear-cut evidence” against them. One of the officers did not appeal.