The Kerala high court on Friday sentenced 24 accused in the Suryanelli sex scandal, involving a minor girl, to various terms of imprisonment and fine. The main accused Dharmarajan was given life imprisonment.
The case, dating back to 1996, has seen many twists and turns. In 2000, a special court had sentenced 35 persons. The state high court had acquitted all except one – the first accused Dharmarajan – saying there was no proof of rape and the girl had consensual sex with them. After the Delhi bus gang rape case the prosecution had approached the Supreme Court saying it was pending in the apex court for eight years.
A Supreme Court bench, headed by justices AK Patnaik and Gyan Sudha Misra, had set aside the Kerala HC order and sent the case back to the high court directing it to take a fresh look and ordered it to complete it in six months. But the high court sought more time and five accused died during the course of trial
Cancelling the earlier judgment of the HC, a division bench of justices KT Sankaran and ML Joseph Francis, upheld the judgment of the special court. The court observed that there were clear evidences of gang rape and the victim had no way to escape from the custody of the gang.