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Bilkis Bano case: Bombay HC upholds life sentence to 11 convicts

The Bombay High Court announced its verdict today in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case that was registered in 2002. The court found the 11 accused guilty and upheld their life imprisonment, as ordered earlier by a trial court. The court has also set aside the acquittal of other people accused in the case, which includes some Gujarat police officers and doctors of a government hospital. These people were earlier acquitted by the trial court. The court also said that the life sentence of the convicts would factor in the time they have already spent in jail, but in lieu of that they will have to pay some fine. It may be recalled that the trial court had found the accused guilty and had sentenced them to life imprisonment in 2008. The convicted people had gang raped Bilkis Bano and killed her family members. The incident occurred subsequent to the Godhra riots.

After the trial court order, the convicts had filed an appeal in the High Court challenging their life imprisonment. The CBI had wanted death penalty for the three accused, but the same has been denied by the High Court. The CBI had pointed out that the Bilkis Bano incident was a case of “mass murder” since 14 members of a family that included babies were killed by the accused. Due to this, the case can be classified as the “rarest of rare”, which deserved the maximum punishment for the convicts.

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