It is unthinkable that P.J. Kurien can occupy his post until he is cleared by a reinvestigation, she says in letter to Ansari
Even as Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien on Friday defended himself against alleged involvement in the Suryanelli rape case, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat met Chairman Hamid Ansari and urged him to “protect the dignity of the Constitutional post” of the Upper House.
“In the light of the Supreme Court judgment for reinvestigation in the main petition [filed by the victim], it is unthinkable that an individual [Mr. Kurien] accused in the case by the victim, can occupy the Chair [of Rajya Sabha] until he is cleared by a reinvestigation,” Ms. Karat said in a letter submitted to Mr. Ansari.
Amid reports that Mr. Kurien had sought an appointment with Congress president Sonia Gandhi to explain his position, the party came to his defence and said it could “not react emotionally” to the issue. “The charge against [Mr.] Kurien was judicially examined. Those who did it said in their collective wisdom that he was not involved,” Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury told journalists.
However, expressing the confidence that Mr. Ansari would do “what is best in the interest of upholding the dignity of Parliament”, Ms. Karat felt the status of Parliament would be “irreparably damaged” in the eyes of the world if a discussion on ordinance on sexual assault was permitted to be guided by a person accused of involvement in a case of rape of a 17-year-old.
Describing as “misleading” Mr. Kurien’s claim that he was “exonerated” in three investigations and also by the High Court and the Supreme Court, Ms. Karat said she had met the victim, who requested the Kerala government to reinvestigate her complaint against Mr. Kurien.
“There were two parallel cases filed in what has come to be called the Suryanelli gang rape case. The first was by the State against 40 men named in the FIR. The other was a private complaint by the victim directly to the court. She said she was constrained to do this since the police had refused to include the name of P.J. Kurien in the list of the accused although she had identified him as one of her tormentors,” the CPI (M) leader said.
“In the private petition against P.J. Kurien, the lower court held that there was prima facie evidence and that his name should be included. [Mr.] Kurien appealed to the High Court, which did not grant him any relief and asked him to go back to the lower court. His appeal was heard by an Additional Sessions Court in 2006 which again rejected his petition and held that the allegations are clear, specific and unambiguous and that therefore the victim should be given a chance to prove her case.”
“Thus three courts had rejected P.J. Kurien’s appeal to have his name excluded from the list of accused,” Ms. Karat said in her letter.
Explaining how the case against Mr. Kurien was rejected by the High Court and also the Supreme Court, Ms. Karat said that in the main petition the appeal of the accused was upheld by the High Court in 2005. “All the accused were acquitted and it was stated that the 17-year-old girl had consented to have sexual relations with all the 40 men. An appeal was filed against this by the State government in the Supreme Court.” It was mainly on the basis of this acquittal that the case against the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman was rejected, she added.
Following the Delhi gang rape case, the Supreme Court decided to fast track all cases of sexual assault pending before it and thus after seven years the Kerala case was heard.
“The Supreme Court made a stinging indictment of the High Court judgment and rejected its reasoning of “consent” as totally flawed. The Supreme Court has ordered a reinvestigation by the Kerala High Court. In this context the victim, who has at last got justice from the Supreme Court, has once again appealed to reinvestigate the case against [Mr.] Kurien. It is a different matter that the Kerala government headed by Prof. Kurien’s party has refused to do so.”