HC reserves order on bail pleas of seven sentenced to life
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The Bombay High Court on Friday reserved its judgment on bail applications of seven convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano rape and massacre case.
Of the 13 accused, seven who were sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court had sought bail; their appeals against conviction are pending in the High Court. The defence claimed that in her first account given to the police, Bilkis had not disclosed that she had been gangraped or named any of the accused in the case. This, according to the defence, gave the benefit of doubt to the accused.
Countering the arguments, CBI laywer DN Salvi told the court that Bilkis had disclosed the offence of gangrape and murder of her family members but it was not properly recorded by the police officers who were also made accused in the case by the CBI. The CBI had gathered sufficient evidence to show the involvement of the accused, based on which they were convicted by the trial court, Salvi told a bench of Justice NH Patil and Justice Mridula Bhatkar. Earlier this week, the court also admitted an appeal filed by the CBI seeking a death sentence for three of the convicts - Jaswantbhai Nai, Govindbhai Nai and Radheshyam Shah alias Lala Vakil.
The Supreme Court transferred the trial of the case from Gujarat to Maharashtra on August 6, 2004, after Bilkis made an application stating that the conditions in Gujarat were not conducive for a fair trial.
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