Stoking controversy, a former Kerala High Court judge today defended his
judgement acquitting 35 accused in the Suryanelli gangrape case, in which Rajya
Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien was allegedly involved, saying the victim was
used in child prostitution and not raped.
"There was ample evidence to show the girl was used for child prostitution,
which is not rape', Justice R Basant, part of a two-judge bench that acquitted
the accused in 2005, was shown as saying on a Malayalam TV channel.
As a controversy erupted, the Judge later maintained his comments were recorded
using a hidden camera.
Justice Basant told PTI, he had refused to talk to the TV journalist on
camera, but there was some hidden camera.
"I just walked into it. I know what I have said. All I can say, look into the
He was only quoting from the judgement and it was a casual conversation, he
The former judge's views came under attack from women and youth outfits, which
condemned them as his verdict was recently set aside by the Supreme Court,
reverting the matter back to the High Court.
"My response is, if anyone wants to know about the judgement, read the judgement,"
the retired judge said.
"If I was asked to decide the case again, I would decide the same way. Please
read the judgement", he said on the TV channel.
The case pertains to the alleged abduction and rape of a 16 year-old from
Suryanelli in the Idukki district in 1996. She was forcibly taken to different
places and allegedly raped by several men over a period of 40 days.
In September 2000, a special court had sentenced the 35 accused to rigorous
imprisonment for varying terms. However, a divsion bench of the High Court
comprising Justices K A Abdul Gaffoor and Basant, acquitted all.
Kurien is not part of the 35 accused, but the victim had filed a private
complaint later on accusing him of involvement in the sexual assault.
Kurien's name figured again in connection with the case after the victim
recently wrote to her advocate to explore the possibility of filing a review
petition, seeking a fresh probe against him, triggering demands for his
resignation. He has maintained that he has already been cleared of the charges
by the apex court.
"If you read the judgement you will know why Justice Gaffoor (the fellow judge
who is no more) and me had acquitted the accused. Please read the judgement. You
will know why the girl was disbelieved, how much time we took to write the
judgement," Justice Basant was shown as saying on the channel.
"You should read the judgement and not say things like politicians on the
platform for getting applause," he said.
"Nobody reads the judgement, you just make comments".
When pointed out that the apex court had expressed 'shock' on reading the HC
judgement, he said those who have not read the judgement, will be shocked.
"I am not blaming her. The girl is not normal, she is deviant. All these are
there in the judgement", Justice Basant said.
Women activists expressed shock at the former judge's statements. President of
Anweshi, an NGO, K Ajitha said, justice Basant was an 'insult' to all judges in
Another activist Suja Susan said, she was shocked with justice Basant's views.
Youth and women outfits of different political parties came out in protest
across the state including in Justice Basant's hometown Thalassery in Kannur
district, where he had gone to address a seminar on "what after the Delhi
Activists of CPI-M's youth outfit DYFI waved black flags to Justice Basant when
his car entered the town and in several other towns his effigy was burnt.
Regretting he was subjected to "unethical" journalistic practice, Justice Basant
said he was unaware of being interviewed and his views would be telecast.
At the seminar, Justice Basant said, he repeatedly told the reporter that if
anybody felt his judgement was wrong then it should be read. The former judge
said he thought that the journalist had come for a discussion and not to beam it
on the channel.
"In the name of journalism you should not resort to unethical practices. The
credibility of journalism will be at stake if you resort to such tactics.There
should be some ethics in journalism," he said.
CPI-M veteran and opposition leader V S Achuthanandan sharply reacted to