New bench constituted for Suriyanelli case

A new bench has been constituted by the Kerala high court to hear the Suriyanelli rape case. A division bench, comprising justices K.T. Shankaran and M.L. Joseph Francis, would hear the bail pleas filed by some of the accused on Monday.

Earlier, the special bench, constituted to hear cases relating to crimes against women, was to hear the case. Justice T.R. Ramachandran Nair, who was heading the bench, had recused himself from the case as he had appeared for one of the accused. Following this a new bench was created.

The Supreme Court had recently stayed the 2005 high court judgement acquitting 35 accused and reducing the life sentence of the third accused, Dharmarajan, to five years in the case.

The sessions court had sentenced the 35 accused to various terms of imprisonment, which was challenged by them in the high court. Dharmarajan, who was absconding and had been arrested recently from Sagar in Karnataka, has been sent to Poojapura jail to undergo the rest of his sentence.

The case relates to the rape of a 16-year-old girl of Suriyanelli in Idukki district in 1996. The victim, a school girl, was allegedly abducted and taken to various places and sexually exploited by different persons.

The victim had yesterday filed a police complaint against Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P.J. Kurien, listing him as an accused in the case along with three others in the light of revelations by Dharmarajan to a television channel that he had accompanied Kurien to the Kumily rest-house on February 19, 1996.

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