SC to Gujarat: Pay Rs 50 lakh to rape survivor Bilkis Bano
A bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi also ordered the state administration to provide Bano with a government job and accommodation, after it noted that she had been living a nomadic life for the past 17 years.Updated: Apr 23, 2019 23:48 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Gujarat government to pay Rs 50 lakh in compensation to Bilkis Bano, who was gang raped during the 2002 riots in the state.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi also ordered the state administration to provide Bano with a government job and accommodation, after it noted that she had been living a nomadic life for the past 17 years.
Bano was 21 years old and five-months pregnant when she was sexually assaulted in Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002 while fleeing the violence that broke out in the aftermath of the Sabarmati train incident in Godhra. Her three children were also killed during the anti-Muslim riots.
The court order came on a petition filed by her demanding enhancement of the compensation awarded to her by the Bombay high court that found Gujarat police officers, including an Indian Police Service officer, RS Bhagora, guilty of destroying evidence in her case. She refused to accept Rs 5 lakh as compensation that was offered to her by the state and approved by the high court.
“Feel lucky that we are not observing anything against your government in the order”, CJI Gogoi told the state government while issuing the directive.
The counsel informed the court that action has been taken against the erring police officials in the case. Their pension benefits had been stopped and the IPS officer was demoted by two ranks, the court was informed. On March 29, the court asked the state to initiate disciplinary action against the officials within two weeks.
The bench said Bano was a witness to the “devastation” of her family and noted how her infant daughter had been killed, with her head being smashed. Seven of her family members were killed when a mob went on the rampage at Randhikpur village.
The CJI told Bano’s lawyer that there was no point looking at the past as the need of the hour was to rehabilitate the victim. The lawyer informed the court that Bano had been leading a nomadic life after having lost everything.
“In today’s world, money is the best healer. We do not know whether it can heal all, but what else can we do for her... Ask for whatever compensation you want and we will pass orders accordingly,” the CJI told the lawyer. . The bench snubbed the state counsel who tried to intervene and pointed out that the case had been pending for many years now.
The trial in Bano’s case initially began in Ahmedabad. When Bano expressed apprehensions over witnesses being harmed, the top court, in August 2004, transferred the case to Mumbai. On January 21, 2008, a special court convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for the incident. It, however, acquitted seven persons including the policemen and two doctors who were accused of tampering with evidence.
First Published: Apr 23, 2019 23:47 IST