Nation Crime 23 Sep 2016 No permission to re- ...

No permission to re-examine witnesses in Bilkis gangrape case

Published Sep 23, 2016, 9:38 am IST
Updated Sep 23, 2016, 10:39 am IST
Bombay High Court. (Photo: PTI)
 Bombay High Court. (Photo: PTI)

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday rejected an application filed by the lawyer of the convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape case seeking re-examination of some of the witnesses.

A division bench of justices V. K. Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar said it can't entertain such an application at a stage when trial is over and appeals are being heard.

Defence lawyer Harshad Ponda had sought the permission to re-examine prosecution witnesses K. N. Sinha, who led the CBI team that probed the case; Bilkis' nephew Saddam, who was eight-years-old at the time of the incident; and Budhsingh Patel, a 'writer constable' at Limkheda police station who wrote down the first FIR lodged by Bilkis.

Ponda also wanted to call a new witness, Mangal Singh, another 'writer constable' at Limkheda police station.

He wanted to re-examine the witnesses because the defence lawyers had made some mistakes during the trial and overlooked certain significant facts when cross-examining, he said.

CBI lawyer Hiten Venegaonkar opposed the application, saying it had come at a "belated stage".

Law does not allow calling of new witness or re- examination of a witness at a stage when the defence has concluded its arguments in the appeal, Venegaonkar said.

The Bombay High Court is hearing appeals filed by 11 convicts in the case, as well as the appeal filed by CBI seeking death penalty for three of them.

The accused were sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court here in 2008 for the gangrape of Bilkis and murder of her family members during a post-Godhra riot.

On March 3, 2002, a mob attacked Bilkis' house at Randhikpur near Ahmedabad and killed seven members of the family. Bilkis, who was five months pregnant, was gangraped. The trial was transferred out of Gujarat for the fear that witnesses might be intimidated or influenced.



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