The Bombay High Court has admitted an appeal filed by CBI seeking death penalty for three convicts for the gang rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of her family members in the aftermath of March 2002 Godhra riots.
CBI’s appeal sought enhancement of punishment for Jaswantbai Nai, Govindbhai Nai and Radhesham Shah alias Lala Vakil who were convicted to life imprisonment in January 2008 by a Mumbai court.
Admitting the appeal, Justice N H Patil and Justice Mridula Bhatkar observed, “prima facie we are satisfied that the appeal deserves to be admitted”.CBI argued that the crime of multiple murders and rape was planned and executed by the convicts.Govind had raped Bilkis in Gujarat despite her pleas that she be spared as she was pregnant.
Additional Public Prosecutor Poornima Kantharia argued that Bilkis had specifically mentioned the role of the three convicts in her evidence.
The convicts, however, argued that there were discrepancies in the evidence and the prosecution has mainly relied on evidence given by Bilkis to rope them in the crime.
Defence lawyer Harshad Ponda said the evidence of Bilkis should not be believed.Hearing a plea made by Biliks, the Supreme Court had ordered retrial of the case in a court at Mumbai.