HC denies lifer bail on health ground

Bombay High Court (HC) turned down Monday an application by a convict in the 2002 Bilkis Bano rape case in Gujarat for bail on health ground.

It, however, asked additional public prosecutor Mankunwar Deshmukh to seek information from Vadodara Prison, where lifer Bipinchandra Joshi is lodged, on availability of ayurvedic treatment for inmates.

Joshi said he suffered from asthma, nasal problems, backache and migraine and needed panchakarma, an 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, the government has started providing it in prisons," justice N H Patil said.

The court will hear the case further on February 5.

A sessions court had sentenced Joshi and 11 others to life in January 2008 for gang rape, murder, assault and criminal conspiracy.

The prosecution said 17 members of Bilkis' family were attacked by a mob in Randhikpur village, 250 km from Ahmedabad, on March 3, 2002, during the post-Godhra riots. The attackers also gang-raped and murdered her mother Halima and cousin Shamim.

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