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Suryanelli: Kamal Nath defends Kurien

Source : IBNS
Last Updated: Tue, Feb 26, 2013 17:56 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IBNS) Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on Tuesday defended Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Kamal Nath over the Suryanelli mass rape case of 1996 in which the Kerala leader's name has been dragged by the victim who was allegedly raped by 42 people for days.

The Suryanelli rape case is concerned with a woman who was abducted when she was a 16-year-old school girl and was raped by 42 men for 40 days in 1996 in Kerala.

In a statement in Rajya Sabha, Kamal Nath said: "It is emphatically stated that Prof. Kurien has never been an accused in the case which is called the Suryanelli case, which has been remanded by the Supreme Court to the Kerala High Court for rehearing of the appeal."



Nath said the Suryanelli case started on the basis of an FIR filed on Jan 17, 1996, which is now 17 years old, in which a girl complained of rape by several people and subsequently as per revelations of the girl, 42 persons were listed as accused.

"There was no mention of Prof. Kurien at that time. After about two months, on the eve of the 1996 general elections, The gave a complaint to the then Chief Minister, Shri A.K. Antony, alleging that Prof. Kurien was also involved in this case and the Deshabhimani, a CPM mouthpiece immediately published it," said Kamal Nath.

"Prof. Kurien himself requested the DGP for an inquiry into the matter. He also sent a defamation notice against the girl and Shri E. K. Nayanar, the then Chief Editor of the Deshabhimani. The allegation was investigated by Shri Rajeevan, a senior IPS officer, who, after examining more than thirty witnesses, telephone records, statement of the State Car Driver, logbook of the State Car and the distance and time involved in reaching the alleged place, came to a firm conclusion that it was humanly impossible for Prof. Kurien to reach the alleged place of the crime," said Nath.

"Therefore, Prof. Kurien is not at all involved. The investigation also concluded that the allegation against Prof. Kurien is either a genuine mistake or the girl is being used as a tool by his political adversaries," said Kamal Nath.

"During the same elections, the girl's father filed a petition in the High Court asking for a CBI inquiry. However, they did not pursue it or appeared in the court after the Lok Sabha elections. Hence, the same was dismissed for non-prosecution. The obvious conclusion is that they were satisfied with the inquiry report or that the petition was meant only to be used during the elections," said the minister.

"The Left Front Chief Minister, Shri E.K. Nayanar, who had made the allegation against Prof. Kurien, and who was by now an accused in a defamation case filed by Prof. Kurien, constituted an investigation team. He had become Chief Minister by then. The investigation team, led by DIG Shri by Mathews, after detailed investigation and questioning all witnesses, came to the conclusion that Prof. Kurien was not involved," said Kamal Nath.

"A third investigation was ordered by the then chief Minister, Mr. Nayanar, who was the CPM chief Minister, under yet another police officer, Shri Somasundara Menon, again , after thorough examination and investigation, questioning even Prof. Kurien's estranged staffer, came to the same conclusion that Prof. Kurien was not involved.

"In the meantime, the maintainability of the defamation suit, filed by Prof. Kurien, was decided in his favour in the lower court. Shirr Nayanar and the girl went in appeal to the High court," said Kamal Nath.

However, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) protested the statement by Kamal Nath and walked out of Parliament.

CPI-M MP Sitaram Yechury said Kurien himself should have made the statement.

"We walked out of Rajya Sabha today and will continue to protest," he said, demanding a statement by the deputy chairman.

The Kerala High Court on Monday adjourned the hearing of bail pleas of 14 accused in the Suryanelli gangrape case till Mar 4.

A new bench comprising Justices KT Shankaran and ML Joseph Francis said it cannot proceed without examining the appeals and records about the case that has not been received from the Supreme Court so far.

Kurien´s name is not included in the list of accused.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy earlier rejected re-investigation into the Suryanelli gangrape case.

He said all allegations levelled against Kurien have been cleared by top courts, including the Supreme Court, of the country.

The rape victim in her letter on Jan 29 said Kurien along with other accused in the case had raped her in the Kumily panchayat guest house in Kerala.

She also filed a police complaint against Kurien on Feb 22, reports said.

The Supreme Court however had cleared the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman in the case.



TEXT OF THE FULL STATEMENT BY KAMAL NATH:

THE MINISTER OF PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (SHRI KAMAL NATH):

Sir, a controversy is being created after the recent Supreme Court judgment in what is known as the 'Suryanelli case'. Sir, a section of the media and some political parties have sought to drag the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, Prof. Kurien's name into this controversy. I wish to make the following statement in this regard.

It is emphatically stated that Prof. Kurien has never been an accused in the case which is called the Suryanelli case, which has been remanded by the Supreme Court to the Kerala High Court for rehearing of the appeal. The Suryanelli case started on the basis of an FIR No. 71/96 filed on 17th January, 1996, which is now 17 years old, in which a girl complained of rape by several people. Subsequently as per revelations of the girl, 42 persons were listed as accused. There was no mention of Prof. Kurien at that time. After about two months, on the eve of the 1996 general elections, The gave a complaint to the then Chief Minister, Shri A.K. Antony, alleging that Prof. Kurien was also involved in this case and the Deshabhimani, a CPM mouthpiece immediately published it.

Prof. Kurien himself requested the DGP for an inquiry into the matter. He also sent a defamation notice against the girl and Shri E. K. Nayanar, the then Chief Editor of the Deshabhimani. The allegation was investigated by Shri Rajeevan, a senior IPS officer, who, after examining more than thirty witnesses, telephone records, statement of the State Car Driver, logbook of the State Car and the distance and time involved in reaching the alleged place, came to a firm conclusion that it was humanly impossible for Prof. Kurien to reach the alleged place of the crime. Therefore, Prof. Kurien is not at all involved. The investigation also concluded that the allegation against Prof. Kurien is either a genuine mistake or the girl is being used as a tool by his political adversaries.

During the same elections, the girl's father filed a petition in the High Court asking for a CBI inquiry. However, they did not pursue it or appeared in the court after the Lok Sabha elections. Hence, the same was dismissed for non-prosecution. The obvious conclusion is that they were satisfied with the inquiry report or that the petition was meant only to be used during the elections. The Left Front Chief Minister, Shri E.K. Nayanar, who had made the allegation against Prof. Kurien, and who was by now an accused in a defamation case filed by Prof. Kurien, constituted an investigation team. He had become Chief Minister by then. The investigation team, led by DIG Shri by Mathews, after detailed investigation and questioning all witnesses, came to the conclusion that Prof. Kurien was not involved. A third investigation was ordered by the then chief Minister, Mr. Nayanar, who was the CPM chief Minister, under yet another police officer, Shri Somasundara Menon, again , after thorough examination and investigation, questioning even Prof. Kurien's estranged staffer, came to the same conclusion that Prof. Kurien was not involved. In the meantime, the maintainability of the defamation suit, filed by Prof. Kurien, was decided in his favour in the lower court. Shirr Nayanar and the girl went in appeal to the High court.

Now, again, on the eve of the 1999 General Elections, a private complaint was filed by the girl in the court on the same issue which was challenged by Prof. Kurien and the matter went up to the supreme Court. The Supreme Court found it a fit case for discharge and directed Prof. Kurien to file for discharge in the lower court. Accordingly, the discharge petition was filed, which was not allowed in the lower court, but the High court in its Judgment of April 2007, containing 71 pages, discharged him of all the charges, after considering all the points raised by the Complainant. It would be fit to mention that the investigation officer, Shri K. K. Joshua, appointed by the Left Front Government itself, submitted a written statement in the court that Prof. Kurien was not involved. Sir, now this is the most important thing. The High Court observed, and I quote:

"I find that the circumstances and evidence produced in the matter do establish that the case foisted against the petitioner is false. It is quite unfortunate that the petitioner had to undergo the trauma of facing such a false case of a scandalous nature for the last more than one decade."

This is what the High Court said. A perusal of the judgement will also show that the High Court decided the private complaint on its own merit, independent of the judgement in the Suryanelli case, acquitting the accused persons. The Left Government went in appeal, but the Supreme Court rejected that in November 2007: thus, confirming the discharge. This decision of the Supreme Court has not been challenged so far by anyone. The Left Front Government, which was in power then, did not even file a review petition.

An impression is sought to be created that there are some new disclosures. All these disclosures, especially the statement of the convict made after 17 years, which he had the opportunity to make before the investigating team or in the court, do not challenge the established fact of the impossibility of Prof. P. J. Kurien reaching the alleged place which he arrived at on the basis of telephone records, key witnesses including the State Car Driver, the logbook of the State Car and the time and distance involved. This conclusion is reached by three investigating teams mentioned earlier. The matter was raised by the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly. The Legal opinion received by the Government of Kerala from the Director General of Prosecution and the senior Supreme Court Lawyer who represented the complainant girl -- this lawyer who gave the opinion was the one who represented the girl in the Supreme Court --- and also the Law Secretary, Government of Kerala said that no case has been made out."




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