New Delhi: A plea demanding exemplary compensation for Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped during the 2002 riots in Gujarat, on Wednesday led the Supreme Court to seek the response of the state government.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to the Gujarat government seeking its reply by March 12 on the fresh plea filed by the victim.
Considering the extreme violation of fundamental rights of the victim in the case, the court should revisit its law on assessment of the quantum of compensation to be given to Bano, the plea, filed through advocate Shobha, said.
Bano, who was gang-raped in March 2002 when she was pregnant, had lost seven family members in the riots that followed the Godhra carnage.
“The horrendous facts of the present case and extremes of the egregious violation of fundamental rights and human rights of the petitioner would though beseech rather demand the court to raise the bar much higher,” the application said.
It also urged the top court to “evolve path-breaking guidelines by revisiting its own law on assessing quantum of compensation to be granted under public law jurisdiction” and set new parameters to arrive at a figure to compensate such violations.
The apex court had in November last year granted time to the Gujarat government to apprise it on whether any disciplinary action has been initiated against policemen convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang rape case.
In her application for exemplary compensation, the victim alleged that the state had not only failed to protect her, but rather used all its machinery to protect the perpetrators of the heinous crime against the petitioner, thereby violating her supreme constitutional rights.
“With this backdrop of legal and factual status, the petitioner would submit to this court that (it) may please consider her case for awarding exemplary compensation to be paid by the State of Gujarat in having failed completely in protecting the fundamental rights of the petitioner,” it said.
The apex court had on November 24 last year made it clear that the plea seeking enhancement of compensation to be awarded to Bano would be considered at a later stage.
The Bombay High Court on May 4, 2017 had upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the gang rape case, while setting aside the acquittal of seven people including policemen and doctors.
The bench had convicted seven persons, including five policemen and two doctors, for not performing their duties (sections 218) and tampering of evidence (section 201) under the Indian Penal Code.
The convicted policemen and doctors are Narpat Singh, Idris Abdul Saiyed, Bikabhai Patel, Ramsingh Bhabhor, Sombhai Gori, Arun Kumar Prasad (doctor) and Sangeeta Kumar Prasad (doctor).
A special court had on January 21, 2008, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men in the case. They had approached the Bombay High Court challenging their conviction and seeking quashing of the trial court’s order.
The CBI had filed an appeal in the high court seeking harsher punishment of death for three of the convicted on the ground that they were the main perpetrators of the crime.
According to the prosecution, on March 3, 2002, Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the riots and seven members of her family were killed.
The trial in the case began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bano expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and the CBI evidence tampered with, the Supreme Court had transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.