The Kerala Government will not order a re-investigation into the 1996 Suryanelli Rape case, home minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told the state assembly.
The statement was unexpected as the government was expected to seek legal opinion on whether or not the case, that involves Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien, can be reopened.
“No person can be prosecuted or punished for the same offence twice,” home minister Thiruvanchoor said. However, the opposition parties pointed out that the Supreme Court has asked the case to be reopened and re-examined.
Demands for re-investigation came about after the Supreme Court of India dismissed the earlier judgment of the Kerala High Court in which around 35 accused persons had been let off scot-free.
The rape victim, who was 16 at the time of the incident, has called for re-investigation in to the case and the inclusion of Kurien’s culpability in the crimes. Kurien is accused of raping the minor girl at a guest house in Kumali in Kerala.
Kurien had managed to escape being named in the case after the Supreme Court of India had, in a separate petition, ruled that he need not be included in the case.
However, Sebastian Paul, former MP and journalist, said Kurien’s exemption was made on technical grounds, which have been changed due to last week’s Supreme Court judgment.
“Kurien was not given exemption based on the merits of the case.. He was given an exemption (by the Supreme Court) citing the fact that nearly all of the accused in the case had been let off by the Kerala High Court,” he said.
The Kerala High Court decision has now been set aside by the Supreme Court and the case has been sought to be re-examined, he pointed out.
Meanwhile, both the Left parties and the BJP have promised strong protests on the matter if Kurien is not included in the chargesheet and the case is not re-investigated. Meanwhile one of BJP’s state level secretaries MP Rajan has been caught up in the controversy after BJP’s state president V Muralidharan said he was unaware that Rajan had given a statement providing an alibi to Kurien in the case. Muralidharan said any alibis that helped Kurien escape investigation 15 years ago should be examined scientifically.