HC grants bail to 34 accused in Suryanelli case

TRIVANDRUM - The Kerala high court on Thursday granted bail to 34 accused in the case related to the gang rape of a 16 year old girl from Suryanelli in Idukki district in January 1996.

By T K Devasia

Published: Sat 23 Mar 2013, 12:58 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 4:11 PM

While allowing the bail applications filed by the accused last month, a division bench comprising Justices K T Shanakaran and M L Joseph Francis directed them to surrender their passports, furnish a bond of Rs50, 000 and refrain from troubling the victim, who is now 32 and an employee of the state government.

The lone convict in the case, Advocate Dharmarajan, who was absconding while serving life sentence, was arrested recently from Karnataka and lodged in jail to serve the rest of the sentence. The others, who were sentenced to imprisonment up to 15 years by a special court, were acquitted by the high court.

The Supreme Court quashed the 2005 verdict of the high court and referred the case back for retrial. The apex court has directed the high court to complete the trial within six months. The court will begin hearing in the case from April 2. The prosecution had argued for the surrender of the accused before the trial court before their plea could be taken up by the high court. However, the division bench rejected the argument saying they will have to appear before the court when their appeals will be taken up for hearing.

The victim has also sought a fresh probe against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson P J Kurien, alleging that he was among those abused her. Kurien has rejected the charge saying he was cleared by the high court and Supreme Court based on investigations conducted by three separate teams.

The victim’s father said that the accused got bail because of weak conduct of the case by the public prosecutor. He said he had met Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and requested appointment of Suresh Babu Thomas as the special public prosecutor, as he had served as the counsel for the girl in the trial court. He said he was doubtful about getting justice if the present prosecutor continued to represent the state government. He said that he will approach the Supreme Court for changing the prosecutor.

The sex scandal took place in January 1996, when the then girl was abducted and abused by a bus conductor and was later confined and sexually assaulted for 45 days by 42 men. The high court acquitted all except Dharmarajan saying that they had sex with the victim with her consent.

The Supreme Court expressed shock over the verdict and ordered the retrial on the appeal filed by the victim. The appeal pending before the apex court for eight years was taken up in the wake of the nation-wide uproar over the gang rape of a para medical student in New Delhi.


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