Suryanelli case: court allows victim’s plea

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday allowed the Suryanelli rape case victim to engage a lawyer of her choice to assist the prosecutor during the hearing of the appeals filed by the accused in the case.

The Bench comprising Justice K.T. Sankaran and Justice M.L. Joseph Francis issued the order after allowing a petition filed by the victim seeking to engage her own counsel to assist the prosecution of the case in the High Court. The Bench has started hearing the arguments on the appeals filed by Dharmarajan and the other accused. The court noted that counsel for Dharmarajan, an accused in the case, as well as the Director-General of Prosecution did not oppose the plea of the victim. The court allowed the victim to engage Suresh Babu Thomas, who had prosecuted the case during the trial stage, to assist the prosecution in the High Court.

In her petition seeking permission of the court to engage a counsel of her choice, she said the evidence in the case was voluminous. She pointed out that a lot of aspersion had been cast on her character and that she was referred as deviant and that she had consented to all the rapes committed on her. It was also alleged that she did not try to escape from the accused when the High Court acquitted all the 35 accused in the case.

The main argument of the accused centred on her character and conduct. She would get an opportunity to counter such attacks and aspersions if she was allowed to engage a counsel of her choice.

The court had earlier disposed of her petition seeking a directive to appoint a special public prosecutor to conduct the appeal cases. The government had then taken the stand that the question of appointing a special public prosecutor was not advisable at this stage.

There were no special circumstances warranting appointment of a special public prosecutor. If the petitioner wanted, she could engage a counsel of her choice to assist the prosecution as per section 24(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

All the accused in the case were granted bail by the High Court on stringent conditions, after suspending execution of their sentences. The accused filed appeals following the reversal of their acquittal by the Supreme Court and consequent restoration of sentences of varying years awarded by the special court to the accused.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:36:43 PM |

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