Bilkis Bano case: Bombay HC rejects CBI’s death plea

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

In its plea before the court in 2016, the CBI had said that this fell under the category of ‘rarest of rare’ cases and the life term awarded by a lower court to three of the prime accused — Govind Nai, Sailesh Bhat and Jaswant Nai — should be enhanced to death penalty.

The court also set aside the acquittal of five policemen in the same case by a trial court and directed the Central Bureau of Investigation agency to probe them.

The probe agency said that according to the evidence, the three prime accused had gang-raped the (then) 19-year old five-month pregnant Bilkis Bano, her mother and her sister.

Bhat had also snatched Bilkis Bano’s three-year-old daughter, and pounded her head with a stone, resulting in instant death, the CBI said, seeking death penalties for all three to “send out a stern message” to the society.

The horrifying incidents occurred in Devgad-Baria village near Dahod on March 3, 2002, at the height of the Gujarat riots following the Godhra train burning, when Bilkis Bano and around a dozen of her family members were attacked by a riotous mob, killing many of them.

Bilkis Bano and two others managed to survive and escape the mob fury.