Suryanelli sex scam: SC relief for ex-minister

In a major relief to Congress leader and former Union Minister P J Kurien, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by Kerala Government challenging his discharge in the infamous Suryanelli sex scandal case of 1996.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran questioned the role of the State Government in the case, asking: "It is a private complaint and what is your (State's) role"?

The State Government counsel pointed out that though three investigations were done in the case at the instance of the Chief Minister, the victim was not given the opportunity to identify the accused by the procedure of test identification parade. The victim identified Kurien through his photograph, which appeared in newspapers, he added. A complaint was lodged by her father on the basis of it, he said.

However, the Bench, unfazed by it, remarked: "If somebody would come to court after three years what will be the evidence left?" However, it said that the state has the right to approach the magistrate's court seeking re-investigation in the case.

Kurien was discharged by the Kerala High Court on April 4 on the ground that the circumstances and evidences produced in the case did establish that the case was foisted against him. The victim was a minor girl who complained that several persons, including Kurien, had raped her in February 1996. The complaint alleged that Kurien had raped her at the Kumily guesthouse in Idukki district. The girl had filed a private complaint to the Chief Minister alleging that she was taken to various places and raped by different persons. Of the 40 accused, who stood trial, except the first accused Dharmarajan, an advocate, the rest were acquitted by the High Court.

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