In a set back to three convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape and multiple murder case, the Bombay high court has admitted an appeal by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which seeks to change the life sentence to a death penalty.
A division bench of justice NH Patil and justice Mridula Bhatkar admitted the appeal by the CBI seeking the death sentence for Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai and Radheshyam Shah alias Lala Vakil. The court observed: “Prima facie we are satisfied that the appeal deserves to be admitted.”
The appeal will come up for hearing in due course of time.
The case was registered in Gujarat in 2002 post the Godhra riots. On January 18, 2008 the special court had awarded life sentence to 11 accused in the case on two counts for gang-raping Bilkis and her relatives; and also for killing some of her family members.
The special court had acquitted five policemen and a doctor couple as the CBI failed to prove that there was any connection between them (policemen) and the accused.
Meanwhile, the court will hear bail applications of seven convicts next week. Ramesh Chandana, Bipin Joshi, Keshar Vahonia, Pradeep Modia, Bakabhai Vahonia, Rajubhai Soni and Mitesh Bhatt, who have been in custody since 2002, have filed a common bail application.