Justice Mridula Bhatkar, upheld for conviction of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, urged people not to blame the judiciary.
Mumbai: Justice Mridula Bhatkar urged people not to hold the judiciary responsible for the convicts’ release, stating that it was the government’s choice. She had upheld the conviction of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case.
In truth, the court officials involved in the Bilkis Bano case at various points have stated that the government made the choice to absolve the accused and that the judiciary is not to blame for it.
Justice Bhatkar stated, declining to comment on the current situation, “I don’t see why people are protesting against the judiciary. Rather, the legal system has made every effort to uphold citizens’ rights. When we are criticised and helpless to defend ourselves, we feel horrible.
The order was reserved by the judges Vijaya Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar’s panel, who have been considering appeals every day since July 2016.
Speaking to India Today on the remissions given by the Gujarati government to the defendants in the Bilkis Bano case from 2002, Justice Mridula Bhatkar stated, “All the three tiers of the judicial system have upheld the law, from Sessions to the Supreme Court have worked towards delivering justice to people.”
When the court heard the daily appeals filed by the CBI and the defendants in the 2002 case, Justice Bhatkar, the chair of the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal, was sitting on the division bench led by Justice VK Tahilramani.
In the wake of the Godhra riots, 11 convicts were given life sentences by the sessions court for raping Bilkis Bano and killing her family members. However, the trial court had acquitted seven and the CBI had filed an appeal against their acquittal.
The panel had stated in their ruling, “We cannot be unmindful of the fact that the occurrence occurred in 2002 and 15 years have passed since then. We decline to increase the punishment of life imprisonment and reject the CBI’s request to award the death sentence to the three suspects in the case. All this time, the suspects have been in detention. In light of this circumstance, after a 15-year hiatus, we are hesitant to lengthen the sentence.
Seven policemen and doctors who had displayed negligence in the line of duty were given two years in prison by the justices Tahilramani and Bhatkar, who also maintained the conviction and sentence of 11. The police were accused of not letting Bilkis see the deceased bodies, which prevented them from carrying out the identification process. The autopsy had been performed carelessly by the doctors.
These police officers and medics appealed the Bombay High Court bench’s conviction to the Supreme Court, but the case was swiftly dismissed by the high court.
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