The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the Kerala High Court’s order acquitting 35 accused in the Suryanelli gangrape case of 1996 in which a 16-year-old girl was sexually assaulted for over 40 days.
A bench of Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra remanded the case back to the high court, directing it to take a re-look. The court also asked all the accused to apply for bail.
The HC had acquitted all the accused on the ground that the victim was “not an unwilling partner.”The SC disagreed with the HC’s conclusion and said, "After arriving at a finding that the prosecutrix (victim) was not an unwilling partner, the high court has failed to understand that the prosecutrix may be a willing partner in the case of one of the accused, but may not be a willing partner in the case of all the other accused. It depends on the facts of each case. We, therefore, set aside the acquittal of the accused and remand the matter back to the high court."
Speaking to HT, victim’s father, a retired postal employee, said: “We are happy that after 17 years, we have got justice. We know some influential people got out of the net using their power and position. Their role also should be probed again.”
Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan said: “Though it is very late, I welcome the Supreme Court verdict. Such verdicts would act as a strong deterrent against those who indulge in sexual crimes,” he said.
The girl from Suryanelli in Idukki district of Kerala had eloped with her boyfriend in January 1996. She was transported from place to place across the state.
(With inputs from Ramesh Babu)