Women activists have demanded that the Union government direct Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien to step down from his post till his “innocence is proven beyond doubt in the 17-year-old Suryanelli case.”

For his part, Professor Kurien has claimed that the police, the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court had cleared him of all the allegations raised in the case.

In a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday, the National Federation of Indian Women general secretary Annie Raja said: “This is a 17-year-old case of kidnapping, sexual assault and rape of a girl [from Idukki, Kerala] where none of the accused persons have been punished so far.”

Stating that at a time when the world was watching India take a firm stand for protection of women, Ms. Raja said: “In the eyes of the public, Professor Kurien is under suspicion. An iota of suspicion can hamper many of the good intentions of the Central government. It goes without saying that people who are holding offices of very high responsibility should be people of impeccable integrity.”

The federation emphasised that it would be “improper and unethical on the part of the Central government to allow Professor Kurien to continue in office.”

It said, “Professor Kurien’s name was included as per the statements made by the victim. But, for reasons better known to the people who were in power at that point and also officials who investigated the case, his name was dropped from the list of accused before the case was taken for trial.”

Ms. Raja said the victim had reiterated her statement on the involvement of Professor Kurien. “It is the question of ethics and morality in public life which demands that Professor Kurien step down with the Supreme Court now asking the Kerala High Court to re-examine the case.”

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