NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Gujarat government to explain how four cops, convicted for tampering with witnesses and fudging documents in the Bilkis Bano rape case during the 2002 riots in the state, continued to be in government service after they were convicted in the case.
The court also allowed Bilkis Bano to seek higher monetary compensation from the accused in the case. Her lawyer Shobha claimed in the top court that the trial court had directed the accused to pay only Rs 2000 each to her, a very meagre amount given her long struggle for justice and the trauma she had been put through.
A three-judge bench led by CJI Dipak Misra permitted her to seek higher compensation from the accused and the state. “She’s entitled to higher compensation but in appropriate proceedings,” he told the lawyer.
Five cops, including IPS officer R S Bhagora, and two doctors had been initially acquitted in the case. But on appeal by the CBI, the Bombay High Court had convicted four cops and two doctors for not doing their duty and tampering with evidence.
One cop was acquitted of the charges. However, the High Court had sentenced them only to the period already undergone in jail. Their appeals to the top court were also dismissed.
A two-judge bench of the court, comprising Justices SA Bobde and L. Nageswar Rao, had dismissed their plea against conviction on the ground that there was clear evidence against them.
Bilkis Bano’s lawyer on Monday told the court that all the accused had since rejoined government service in the state. “They are all working, that is a fact.”
The CJI demanded to know if any departmental action had been taken against them.
“How can they work? They have been convicted and sentenced,” the CJI observed.
The court then asked the state government to get back to it with facts on this within four weeks. Bilkis Bano was gang-raped when she was trying to flee her village during the 2002 riots in the state. Fourteen members of the family including her youngest daughter, 2, were killed by the attackers.