Kochi, Mar 4: The Kerala High Court has deferred the hearing on the bail pleas of 34 accused in the Suryanelli rape case to Mar 15 as the state government sought more time to obtain some records from the Supreme Court.
Earlier this year, the apex court set aside the verdict delivered by a two-judge division bench of the high court back in 2005. Though the trial court sentenced 35 of the accused to rigorous imprisonment, all but one of them were acquitted eight years ago.
Only a lawyer SS Dharmarajan was found guilty of procuring a minor girl and selling her to several persons for purposes of prostitution.
The Kerala government challenged the acquittals. In Jan 2013, the Supreme Court asked the high court to again look at the entire evidence presented in the case.
Accordingly, a bench headed by Justices ML Joseph Francis and KT Shankaran took up the matter on Feb 25. However, an adjournment to Mar 4 was forced by the fact that appeals filed by various parties in the case were not available.
On Monday, the court decided to hear the arguments of the defense counsels and prosecution on the bail pleas from April 2 onwards. Lawyers appearing on behalf of the accused were ready to argue their case on Monday. However, the government informed the court that it needs at least a weeks time to get the Supreme Court records. Hence the bench adjourned the hearing to Mar 15.
The prosecution stressed that all the accused should first surrender before the police and then apply for bail. The sentences awarded by the trial court must be quashed and the accused given bail subsequently, the defense pleaded.
On Mar 2, the rape survivor urged a court in the Idukki district to make Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien an accused in the case. She averred that he had sexually abused her at the Kumily guest house on Feb 19, 1996.
The Peerumed court cited the report submitted by T Asif Ali, Director General of Prosecution in the state, as per which no fresh evidence incriminating the Congress leader has emerged. Therefore the rape survivor's plea for a re-investigation into Kurien's involvement in the case was rejected.