Kerala High Court confirms sentences of 23 in Suryanelli sex case
A division bench of the Kerala High Court, upholding the trial court's verdict, Friday confirmed the sentences awarded to 23 accused in the Suryanelli sex case ranging from various terms of imprisonment and fines.
However, seven people, earlier convicted by the trial court, were let off.
The prime accused in the case, Dharmarajan, who is an advocate by profession, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
The victim is from Suryanelli village of Idukki district. The sex scandal took place in January-February 1996 when the then 16-year-old was threatened, abducted and abused by a bus conductor. She was later confined and sexually assaulted by several men over 40 days.
After her tormentors allowed her to go home, a case was registered and a special court was set up. In 2000, the court sentenced 36 people to various terms of imprisonment.
But following an appeal by all the accused, the Kerala High Court in 2005 acquitted all but Dharmarajan observing that the girl had consensual sex with all of them.
Following this, the victim and the state government approached the Supreme Court which Jan 31, 2013 directed the high court to try the case afresh.
The division bench of Justice K.T. Shankaran while upholding the trial court's judgment also expunged the references about the girl in the then verdict of the high court.
"We are happy by the turn of events and this judgment should be an eye opener to the then judge of the high court, which gave a clean chit and made improper references about my daughter," said the victim's father, after hearing the verdict.
The victim was given a state government job by the then E.K. Nayanar government (1996-2001). She now resides with her aged parents in Kottayam district.
It was not immediately clear whether the convicts would appeal against this verdict.
(Posted on 04-04-2014)