Saturday, July 2, 2011

BILKIS BANO CASE - High Court Rejects Bail Plea of Seven Convicts

MUMBAI: The bail pleas of seven persons convicted for killing 14 relatives of Bilkis Bano and raping the six-month pregnant woman in Dahod district of Gujarat in the aftermath of the 2002 Godhra carnage were rejected by the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday.

“Considering the circumstances surrounding the incident in question, the seriousness and the gravity of offence and the charges levelled against the accused, we are not inclined to release them on bail, pending hearing and final disposal of the appeals,“ observed the division bench of justice Naresh Patil and justice Mridula Bhatkar.

The case was transferred by the apex court for trial in Mumbai. On January 21, 2008, a sessions court had convicted 13 persons for the alleged roles played by them in the massacre and acquitted the remaining seven for want of evidence.
Seven of those convicted -Ramesh Chandana, Bipinchandra Joshi, Kesharbhai Vohania, Pradeep Modhya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni and Mitesh Bhatt -had moved applications seeking bail pending hearing and final disposal of their appeals.

Their counsel Arshad Ponda had pointed out the various discrepancies in the evidence produced by the prosecution before the trial court. The high court, however, refused to consider the discrepancies stating that the discrepancies, infirmities and exaggerations highlighted by Ponda could be looked into minutely at the time of the final hearing on the appeals.

The HC also rejected the senior advocate's plea for granting bail on the ground that the final hearing on the appeals filed by the convicts would take more than seven years.

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