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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

7 yrs on, SC vows to fast-track case

Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 03, 2013
First Published: 23:12 IST(3/1/2013) | Last Updated: 23:14 IST(3/1/2013)

As the demand for a speedy trial in the recent gangrape-cum-murder case of a paramedical student becomes more vociferous, an appeal filed by a gangrape victim from Kerala is lying in cold storage in the Supreme Court for over seven years.

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The victim, who was allegedly abducted and raped by 36 men for 40 days in 1996, had challenged the acquittal of her perpetrators by the Kerala High Court.

The case was known as the Suryanelli rape case, named after the village where the victim resided. Since the incident, the girl and her family have shifted houses twice. She now works as a peon in the sales tax department.

Senior counsel Chander Uday Singh, appearing for the victim and VK Biju, advocate for All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), on Thursday apprised the Chief Justice of India (CJI) about the pending appeal and requested him for an early hearing. 

Expressing surprise at the fact that the appeal hadn't come up for hearing since November 2005, the CJI advised the counsel to mention the matter next week and assured the appeal would be heard within the next two weeks.

Justice Altamas Kabir's reassurance to the rape victim from Kerala comes a day after he had said that the judiciary meant business in tackling cases of this nature.

In the Suryanelli case, the girl was abducted by a bus conductor who raped her and then passed her onto others, some of who were powerful and well-connected in Kerala at the time.

It was her case that led in 1999 to the commissioning of Kerala's first special court dedicated to handling cases of sexual assault.

The trial court had convicted the 36 accused. In 2005, however, the HC acquitted 35 and sentenced one for kidnapping while setting him free of rape charges.

Both the victim and state filed an appeal before the SC which on November 11, 2005 issued notice and admitted the case.

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