Sooryanelli-the flagitious sex-trade case in Kerala

 It is a ray of hope for the 32 year old Kerala female, the Supreme Court's decision to over-rule the 2005 Kerala High Court's judgement which acquitted 35 out of 36 men who used her for sex for 40 days, ferrying across to different places, at 16, when a high school student.  The decision came from an SC's fast track bench of justice A.K Patnayak and Njan Sudha Misra on 31January 2013. 

Life of an ordinary couple, husband a Post &Telegraph employee, now retired and sick and wife a nurse, sick too, who at the time of the incident lived in the highland district Idukki,Kerala, turned upside down when one day their younger daughter out of two, was kidnapped from her school's hostel, Little Flower Convent, Munnar, and found after 42 days ditched in a critical condition, sex organ lacerated, swollen and with abuse marks all over the body. She was abducted on January 16, 1996.

While parents forcing their sexually abused daughters to hush up their ordeal for family honour(?) has become a state and national norm, they sought for legal action against the accused to bring them to books. But that did not happen because the accused came from a moneyed and political class.  A cross section of Kerala's dirt, among them included high-profile politicians; fathers and uncles to girls younger and older than their hapless victim and husbands to wives happily (?) married to them.

Politicians, police officers and law officials who represented the three organs of India's parliamentary democracy, legislature, executive and judiciary all assembled together in a straight line seemingly under the glare of religion organizations and their hunched media, not to deliver justice to the poor girl but to protect the perpetrators.

Most among the alleged perpetrators are seemingly the rank and files in the UDF, an Indian National Congress linked coalition then ruled Kerala and still rules or their relatives. One prime accused is P.J Kurian minister in the Narasimha Rao cabinet; he was accused to have forced sex on the girl on 19 February 1996.  The victim had recognized him from his photograph (March 26, 1996) in a local daily. A.K.Antony was then the Chief minister of Kerala.

According to the victim, Kurian's name caused a furor among the ruling classes which apparently influenced the investigating officer.  Kurian was exonerated.  The victim then approached the LDF that came into power after the UDF. LDF, a Marxist coalition executed another high level probe led by Shibu Mathew dubbed as a 'preacher behind the uniform' and Kurien was once again exonerated by its chief minister late Nayanar. 

The victim then filed a private application before the district magistrate, who ruled that the 'Congress leader (P.J.Kurian) can be made an accused in the case'.  Kurian appealed against this in the supreme court and got a clean chit and his name was dropped from the 42 accused. SC did that seemingly without hearing the victim.
In 1999 the Kerala government instituted a fast track court to deal with the sexual attack cases. In 2002, out of the 42 accused, 35 were convicted by this special court. But on an appeal from the culprits, in 2005, the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court of Justice K.A. Gafoor, and justice R, Basanth,exonerated all but one.  The verdict concluded that since the girl did not attempt to run away from the rapist she was a willing participant and hence the rape was consensual.

An appeal against that verdict was then forwarded by the LDF state government as well the victim to the Supreme Court which took no action on it.

It is now, in the aftermath of the Delhi incident that the chief Justice of India Althamas Kabir expressed his concern over the delay in hearing the pending cases and hence came the January 32 Supreme Court order to the Kerala High Court ''to re-examine the evidence presented, and present its decision within six months''.


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