Thiruvananthapuram: Suryanelli gang-rape case victim’s demand for re-investigating Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien’s alleged role in the 17-year-old case rocked the Kerala Assembly on Monday.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led opposition Left Democratic Front disrupted the proceedings after Speaker G Karthikeyan rejected their notice for an adjournment motion on the issue. The Speaker’s decision was based on the government’s reply that a re-investigation in a case closed by the high court and Supreme Court was not legally tenable.
On this, the LDF members stormed the well of the house by waving placards and shouting slogans against Kurien as well as the government. Four members even climbed the Speaker’s podium.
The watch and ward staff had a tough time in preventing them advancing against the Chair. They were later brought back to their seats by deputy leader of the opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who moved the notice for the adjournment motion. However, the opposition continued their protests when the house reassembled after one hour, forcing the Speaker to rush through the day’s listed business amidst the din.
Leading the members out of the house, opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said that the opposition will not compromise on its demand for investigation against Kurien.
He pointed out that the government’s position in the case was a violation of the spirit of the ordinance on sex crimes against women signed by President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday, which had a provision that the victim’s deposition in rape cases should be given due prominence.Balakrishnan pointed out that the girl had requested the home minister for a fresh probe. He said, the revelation of a former police officer, who was part of the team that investigated the case that Kurien’s alleged involvement was not properly looked into, was also significant in view of recent developments in the case.Replying to the notice, Home Minister Thiruvanchiyoor Radhakrishnan said that a fresh probe was not legally possible as the charge had already been inquired into and found baseless by both the high court and the Supreme Court. He pointed out that the apex court had discharged Kurien in 2007, when the LDF was in power. He asked why the then government headed by Balakrishnan’s party had not filed a special leave petition (SLP) if they were convinced that Kurien was among those who had raped the girl. He said that the LDF, which remained silent all these years, was raking up the matter now for political gains.
The minister said he would not blame the opposition for that as a government could act only within the framework of the law in any matter. Backing his colleague, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that the government could not act according to what people say. He said that the government was against crucifying the innocent. “Our avowed stand is that the guilty should be punished, but that the innocent should not be crucified. A guilty person should be punished. But at the same time, an innocent should not be crucified in any manner. This is most improper,” Chandy said.
On Achuthanandan’s contention that government had flouted the spirit of the ordinance, he said the investigation against Kurien was conducted twice based on the statement of the victim, that too during the tenures of the both UDF and LDF.