Will compensate Bilkis Bano, says Gujarat after Supreme Court tweaks order
The Gujarat government on Monday agreed to give gangrape survivor Bilkis Bano Rs 50 lakh, a job and a house after the Supreme Court added a clarification to its April order at the state’s request. This addition makes it clear that the Supreme Court had ordered compensation to Bilkis Bano in light of the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case.
The Supreme Court had ordered the Gujarat government to provide Bilkis Bano with a job and accommodation apart from Rs 50 lakh, observing that she had lived a nomadic life for 17 years since her gangrape in March 2002. Her lawyers had told a bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that Bano, her husband Yakub, and five children, including 16-year-old daughter Hazra, had lived in over 20 different locations out of fear of retribution.
But the Gujarat government did not implement the order for five months.
When Chief Justice Gogoi asked the Gujarat government to explain the delay, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the state government was going to file a review petition against the April ruling.
Tushar Mehta suggested that the state government wanted the court to spell out that the compensation had been ordered in view of the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case.
When the bench led by Chief Justice Gogoi accepted the suggestion, Tushar Mehta gave an undertaking that the state would implement the compensation order within two weeks.
Chief Justice Gogoi nudged the state to move faster, observing that the government didn’t need two weeks to pay compensation.
Bano’s legal battle of over 15 years began after the state police dismissed her complaint of gangrape during the 2002 riots in Gujarat citing lack of evidence.
Bano, then 21, was five months pregnant when she was assaulted by a mob of Hindu rioters in Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad. Bano lost 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter whose murder she witnessed.
The Supreme Court had earlier in March this year ordered the state government to act against police officials who were tasked with probing the case. The Bombay high court had found the investigators guilty of destroying evidence, which led the Gujarat government to stop pension benefits of two officials, and demote RS Baghora, an Indian Police Service officer, by two ranks.