The Kerala High Court is expected to hear the Suryanelli rape case all over again from April 2. While the earlier judgement, which was set aside by the Supreme Court, commented on the “deviant behaviour’’ of the victim, her medical examination report and the deposition of the doctor during the trial could assume significance now.
Dr. V.K. Bhaskaran, superintendent and gynaecologist of taluk headquarters hospital, Adimali, had examined the victim on February 28, 1996, two days after she was let off by her captors. She was in a state of panic during the examination and in severe pain, said the doctor. During the trial, the doctor had on February 28, 2002 categorically stated that the victim was subjected to “violent sexual act”. “This deposition could become crucial during the fresh hearing. The case was tried by two courts (Dharmarajan was caught and tried after the first case was disposed of) and both found the victim dependable. Her statement was corroborated effectively by material and medical evidence,’’ says A Jayasankar, High Court lawyer.
The deposition made by Dr. Bhaskaran before the Additional Sessions (Special) Judge, Kottayam, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, made it clear that the victim’s ailments and the injuries on her private parts were evidence of “infection following violent and repeated sexual acts.”
The doctor did not rule out rape simply because there were no signs of resistance. “If, as stated by the victim, she was raped after being threatened and intimidated, then there would not be any sign of resistance on her body.’’ He pointed out that infection, inflammation, ulcers, fresh tears and the victim’s distress were all pointers to violence unleashed on her.
Dr. B. Krishnan of the forensic medicine department, Government TD Medical College, Alappuzha, feels that lack of injuries at the time of examination does not mean that they were not there at all. “According to the victim’s statement, the alleged sexual acts happened between January 19 and February 26, and Dr. Bhaskaran examined her on February 28. The absence of signs of resistance does not mean she did not suffer contusions or abrasions during the initial days. There was enough time for such injuries to heal,” he said.
The statement throws light on the plight of a minor who was subjected to violent sex, and it challenges the argument of consensual sex. The doctor noted that she could not walk properly as even her gait indicated severe pain.
The doctor told the trial court that she was suffering from infections for at least 15 days and that she would have suffered severe pain all these days while being subjected to violent acts.
The Special Court had sentenced all the 35 accused to rigorous imprisonments varying from 6 to 13 years in 2005, which was set aside by the High Court later on. The High Court bench comprising Justice K.A Abdul Gafoor and Justice R. Basant had reduced the third accused S.S. Dharmarajan’s sentence to five years. But the Supreme Court on January 30 ordered a fresh hearing in the case.
While framing the original case, Dr. Bhaskaran’s report had played a significant role.. “The conclusion of the investigating team that the girl was raped while kept under detention and after intimidating her was based on the medical examination. She had also given a statement that she was tortured by her captors,” said K.K. Joshua, former Superintendent of Police, Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau. He was a member of the special investigation team that probed the case.