Bombay HC refuses bail to convict seeking ayurvedic treatment

Refusing to grant bail to a convict in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder case, the Bombay High Court Monday directed the government to find out if the accused who is suffering from asthma and backache could be provided with ayurvedic treatment inside jail.

A division bench of Justices N H Patil and A R Joshi was hearing a petition filed by Bipinchandra Joshi, one of the convicts serving life sentence, who sought to be released on bail on medical grounds.

He pleaded that he was suffering from asthma, nasal problems, backache, migraine and wanted to take ayurvedic treatment.

"These are common diseases. Every second person has such health problems. Bail cannot be granted on such grounds. If he wants ayurvedic treatment then the government has started providing them inside prisons," Justice Patil said.

The bench directed the state government to contact the Vadodara prison where Joshi is lodged and find out about his medical problems and whether ayurvedic treatment could be provided to him inside the prison.

The matter will be heard on February 5.

Joshi and 10 others were sentenced to life imprisonment in January 2008 by a lower court for gangrape, murder, assault, criminal conspiracy and causing enmity between two religious groups. Seven others were acquitted.

According to the prosecution, on March 3, 2002, Bilkis's family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the post-Godhra riots and eight members of her family were killed.

Bilkis, who was five months pregnant at the time, was gangraped while six other members of her family managed to escape from the mob.

The trial began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bilkis expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and the CBI evidence tampered with, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

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