Even as political pressure mounts on Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha P J Kurien to step down from office till his name is cleared in the Suryanelli sex scandal, the hitherto presumed safe legal ground too may be wearing thin.
The basis of this line of thought that is now gaining currency in the legal circles here is the question as to why Kurien kept out the complainant, the girl’s father who filed the private complaint for allegedly sexually harassing his daughter on February 19, 1996 in the Kumily panchayat rest house and obtained an order in his favour. The Supreme Court Bench order of November 2007 dismissed a Special Leave Petition by the Kerala State Government challenging a High Court order granting Kurien discharge from the private complaint filed by the victim’s father before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court, Peerumade in 1999. The Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran had then questioned the locus standi of the State Government in a private complaint while dismissing the SLP. When Kurien moved for discharge (CMP No.4628 of 2006) of the case privately prosecuted by the girl’s father, there was only a limited role for the State Government.
“When the trial court dismissed the discharge petition, it appears that Kurien filed a revision petition in the High Court without impleading the complainant, at whose instance the discharge petition was dismissed by the trial court. Here it must be borne in mind that the victim’s father was compelled to approach the court with a private complaint as the chargesheet filed by the state deleted Kurien from the list of the accused,” said a senior HC advocate.
It is this High Court judgment that the State Government challenged by way of the SLP before the Supreme Court resulting in the case being dismissed with the Bench’s comment as to what was the State Government’s interest in a private complaint. The Code of Criminal Procedure under the powers of Revision says in Cr PC 401(2): “No order under this section shall be made to the prejudice of the accused or other person unless he has had an opportunity of being heard either personally or by pleader in his own defence”.
“A fraud seems to have been perpetrated on the Suryanelli sex scam victim and judicial process hijacked. Either the High Court or the Supreme Court should suo motu intervene. There is no way out of this impasse for Kurien but to step down till his name is cleared. This has been the BJP’s stand at the state-level, one which is now openly endorsed by the central leadership,” said BJP state president V Muralidharan. Surely, if there is even the vestige of a doubt that justice has been denied to a rape victim for 17 long years, the government may be forced to get moving, especially in the backdrop of the Delhi rape and murder.