The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Gujarat government to rehabilitate and pay Rs 50 lakh compensation to Bilkis Yakub Rasool Bano, who was gang-raped at the age of twenty-one in the post-Godhra riots in 2002.
A bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna expressed concern about the victim after learning that she had been living a nomadic life and is actually on charity. The court directed the Gujarat government to give her a state government job and provide her accommodation at a place of her choice.
Bilkis Bano was pregnant when she was gang-raped by a mob, which also killed seven members of her family at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad on March 3, 2002. The court also observed that her infant daughter was "smashed" against the wall in their house before her.
Chief Justice Gogoi pointed out that the rehabilitation of the victim is at priority, after her lawyer contended before the court she has lost everything in the tragedy.
"In today's world, money is the best healer. We are not sure, if it can heal her, but what else can we do for her... As per her condition, ask for whatever compensation you want and we will pass orders accordingly," he told the lawyer.
As Gujarat's counsel Hemantika Wahi tried to intervene, the Chief Justice, in a sharp reply, said: "You are lucky, we are not observing anything against you... How many years has this case been pending?"
The apex court also rubbished the Gujarat counsel's contention that the compensation was too high for the victim. Earlier, the state government had given RS 5 lakh compensation.
Regarding increase in compensation for the victim, the CJI asked: "You tell us how much compensation you are willing to give?" As counsel said Rs 10 lakh is sufficient, the CJI replied that the court will give her Rs 50 lakh.
The state government counsel also informed the top court that three guilty officials, who tried to tamper with evidence in the gang-rape case, have been stripped off entire pension benefits, and an IPS officer has been demoted by two ranks.
The Bombay High Court had upheld the life imprisonment of 11 persons accused in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case.
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