New Delhi: Observing they had been rightly held guilty of their crimes, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed appeals filed by two doctors and four policemen against their conviction by the Bombay High Court in the 2002 Bilkis Bano case.
“You all have been unreasonably acquitted by the trial court in the case despite there being clear-cut evidence against you,” said a bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao.
Senior police officer R S Bhagora, currently serving in Gujarat, was recently convicted along with four other policemen by the High Court, overturning the trial court order acquitting them.
The Bombay High Court had on May 4 reversed the trial court verdict acquitting Bhagora and others and upheld the conviction of 11 people (one convict is dead) in the Bilkis Bano gang rape and murder case.
One policeman Idris Abdul Sayed has not appealed against his conviction. Counsel for Bhagora said he was unnecessarily caught in the web of circumstances and had no direct role in the incident.
The bench, however, refused to go into the matter saying Bhagora was the supervising officer in the case and everything happened under his nose.
Advocate Shobha, appearing for Bikis Bano, opposed the appeals of the convicts.
The High Court bench had convicted seven persons - 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 apex court had on May 30 refused to stay the conviction of Bhagora.
A special court had on 21 January, 2008 convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for raping Bilkis 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 later approached the Bombay High Court challenging their conviction and sought quashing and setting aside of the trial court order.
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.