Bilkis Bano Case: Supreme court to Gujarat Government- Why has the compensation not been paid?

Bilkis bano was gang raped, while she was five months pregnant during Gujarat riots of 2002. Several members of her family were killed including her two-and-half-year old daughter. She has been waiting for justice for 17 years now.

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Gujarat Government to pay Rs 50 lakh compensation and provide job within two weeks to a Bilkis Bano, the woman who survived gangrape during 2002 Gujarat riots.

Earlier on April 23 also SC had directed the Gujarat government to pay the compensation of Rs 50 lakh, a job, and residential accommodation but the Gujarat government did not comply with the supreme court orders.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also questioned the Gujarat government- “Why has the compensation not been paid? Why haven’t you paid?”

The court dismissed the possibility of a reconsideration of their decision and directed the state to comply with its order within 2 weeks. “Even 2 weeks’ time is not needed”, commented the Chief Justice.

Bilkis Husband Yakoob Rasool told PTI-  “The Supreme Court on April 13 told the state government to give her compensation within 15 days. It has been over five months now, but the government did not contact us even once, let alone follow the court order,”

Mr. Rasool said his family sent two notices to the Vijay Rupani-led state government, reminding of the top court order, but the government did not reply, after which they approached the Supreme Court again.

All we know is that Bilkis suffered a lot in last 17 years, but never gave up the fight,” he said.

Bilkis Bano case

On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the post-Godhra riots.

Bilkis, 21 years and five months pregnant at that time, was gang-raped and several members of her family were killed. During the riots, 14 members of Bilkis’ family were killed, including her two-and-half-year old daughter who was snatched from her mother’s arms and smashed on a rock.

Bilkis Bano was illiterate and was not well off economically. Police and magistrates dismissed her case in 2003. The national human rights commission backed her petition in the Supreme Court which led to a CBI inquiry. In January 2004, the CBI arrested all the accused named by Bilkis Bano. The CBI also exhumed the bodies of those killed for examination.

She kept receiving threats forcing her to change her residence as many as 20 times in two years. She later filed a plea in the Supreme Court for transfer of the case outside Gujarat. The Supreme Court in August 2004 shifted the trial of Bilkis Bano case from Gujarat to Mumbai. The Supreme Court in August 2004 shifted the trial of Bilkis Bano case from Gujarat to Mumbai.

The Trial case

A special court had on January 21, 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.

She also sought disciplinary proceedings against the police officials who were convicted by the High Court in the case. The bench was informed by the state’s counsel that pension benefits of the erring officials have been stopped and the IPS officer who was convicted by the Bombay High Court in the case has been demoted by two ranks.

The high court, on May 4, 2017, convicted seven people – five policemen and two doctors – under charges of not performing their duties and tampering of evidence. 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.

After four years, the trial court in Mumbai found 13 of 20 accused guilty. The court awarded life sentence to 11 of the convicts.

 

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