JUST RECOMPENSE: ON COMPENSATION FOR BILKIS BANO
25, Apr 2019
Prelims level : Polity and Governance Mains level : Government interventions
Why in News:
- The Supreme Court has directed the Gujarat government to give Rs 50 lakh as compensation, a job and accommodation to Bilkis Bano, who was gang raped during the 2002 riots in the state.
- A group of rioters had raped her as well as two other women, and killed seven members of her family at Randhikpur village on March 3, 2002.
- The Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi awarded her 50 lakh, besides asking the State government to provide her with a government job and a house.
- The Bombay High Court provided criminal prosecution resulted in conviction and life sentences to 11 persons. The court found deliberate inaction on the part of some police officers and the autopsies were perfunctory and manipulated.
- The Code of Criminal Procedure was amended in 2008 to insert Section 357A under which every State government has to prepare a scheme to set up a fund from which compensation can be paid to victims of crime and their dependants who have suffered loss and injury and who may require rehabilitation.
- The Centre has a Central Victim Compensation Fund.
- National Legal Services Authority has prepared a compensation scheme for women victims and survivors of sexual assault and other crimes.
- The hearing had come up to the Supreme Court when Bilkis Yakub Rasool moved the top court seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Godhra riots of 2002.
- The apex court had sought a report from a senior police officer in Gujarat who pointed out several acts of negligence on the part of the local police.
- The Supreme Court ordered the CBI to probe the case. The CBI discovered that local policemen had buried some of her relatives’ bodies with salt to speed up decomposition. The agency exhumed the skeletons and sent them for forensic tests. Later, six policemen were charge-sheeted for intentionally messing up the investigation.
- Bilkis Bano got justice at the Bombay High Court after 15 years of her gruesome gang rape and the murder of 14 of her family members. The court had held all the 20 accused as convicts. The trial court had acquitted seven accused for want of evidence.
- Within the chaos of communal violence that gripped Gujarat, and especially in Godhra, where a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burned, along with 59 kar sevaks, 14 people
- – including four women and four children – were killed while Bilkis, who was then just 19, was gang raped and left to die on that fateful day of March 3. She, however, survived and has fought for justice.
Communal Riots India
- The problem of communalism begins when a religion is seen as the basis of the national unity and identity. The problem becomes sharper when followers of a particular religion are pitted against another.
Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat (2002)
- In 2002, Gujarat witnessed one of the ugliest communal riots in its history.
- The spark of the riots happens at Godhra Station, where a bogey of train that was returning from Ayodhya with Karsevaks was set on fire.
- Suspecting it to be Muslims conspiracy, large scale violence against Muslims began in many parts of Gujarat.
- National Human Right Commission Criticized the Gujarat Govt’s role in failing to control
- violence, in providing relief to the victims & prosecute the perpetrators of this violence.
- It is a concrete instance of state inaction and negligence that would normally justify the payment of a hefty compensation.
- Not every crime would have a similar set of circumstances.
- If the convictions are not easy to come by in cases of mob violence, victim compensation may often be the only way to ensure some justice.
- There is a need to streamline the schemes and ensure that the compensation process is completed or not