Friday, April 4, 2014

Justice delayed (denied) in Suryanelli

A totally barbaric case where a glimmer of light can (may) be seen. A sixteen year old tortured for 40 days with all the accused except the prime mover acquitted of all charges. Then came the log-term mental toruture where she was accused of being a "deviant girl."

The only difference with the re-appeal is the ghost of Nirbhaya, which forced the Supreme court to scrutinize her case (after it had been lying idle for an unbelievable period of 8 years [ref wiki]).  

This poor girl can thank that poor girl for a bit of justice that may be flowing after such a long dry season.


24 accused in the Suryanelli rape case have been held guilty of gang rape by Kerala high court on Friday after a rehearing in the case. All the 24 were acquitted 9 years ago by another division bench of the court.

The mass acquittal was challenged in the Supreme Court, which ordered re-hearing in the case last year.

It was on January 31 last year that the apex court had set aside the high court's mass acquittal in the rape case and had asked the high court to take a fresh look at the case.

A division bench comprising Justice KT Sankaran and Justice ML Joseph Francis pronounced its judgment today after completing fresh hearing.

The case relates to the abduction of a 16-year-old girl (16 years, 3 months, and 23 days as on January 16, 1996) from her school hostel at Suryanelli in Idukki district on January 16, 1996 by a bus conductor, first accused Raju, in the guise of love.

She was then handed over by the conductor to second accused Usha and Dharmarajan and was transported from place to place in Kerala and Tamil Nadu for 40 days. During the 40-day period, she was presented to 41 men and was raped 67 times, until she was released on the morning of February 26, 1996. She was transported for over 3,000 kilometres by the gang during the rapes.

Charges against the accused included rape, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, wrongfully concealing abducted person, selling minor girl, procuration of minor girl, and gang rape.


On September 2, 2000, a sessions court at Kottayam had convicted 35 of the accused to undergo prison sentences ranging from 4 to 13 years and had acquitted four persons.

A total of 40 persons had faced trial in the case, which included 9 businessmen, 2 advocates, 2 railway employees, 3 vehicle brokers, 1 mechanic, 1 policeman, 5 drivers, 1 professor, 1 clerk, 5 coolies, 6 farmers, 1 bus conductor, 1 nurse, and sex worker Usha who pimped the girl.

As the main accused Dharmarajan was absconding, he faced trial separately later on. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001. Considering appeals filed by convicts, a division bench of the high court had, on January 20, 2005, acquitted all the accused except Dharmarajan. He was convicted only for procuration of minor girl, and not for rape. His sentence was modified to 4 years of rigorous imprisonment from life imprisonment by the high court.

Considering state government's appeal, a special bench of the apex court dealing with crimes against women had set aside the high court's judgment and had ordered a fresh hearing on the appeals by the high court on January 31 last year.

State government had assigned director general of prosecution T Asaf Ali to present the prosecution's case. A total of 27 appeals were filed by the convicts, including prime accused Dharmarajan, through advocate George Kutty Mathew. Hearing of the appeals had begun on March 13 last year.

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regards