Apex court surprised over political rivalry in Kerala


New Delhi : The intense political rivalry in Kerala between the ruling Left Front and the Congress Friday surprised even the Supreme Court.

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The rivalry left the apex court wondering what had made the state government challenge in the apex court a state high court order giving Rajya Sabha Congress member P.J. Kurien a clean chit in a private complaint of rape against him.

As the Kerala government’s appeal against the state high court order came up for hearing, a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan expressed surprise, saying, “Is it not unusual?”

The bench, which also included Justices R.V. Raveendran and V.S. Sirpurkar, said, “It is surprising that the government has come in here in an appeal against the high court ruling in a case of private complaint of rape.”

The bench also asked the state government counsel as to why it had come in appeal despite even the private complainant not moving the apex court.

The bench, however, deferred the hearing on the matter, after Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told the court that it had no instruction from the government on the case and sought time for the instruction.

As per the legal provisions, the state is not supposed to file an appeal in the superior courts against the judgements of lower courts in cases of private complaint.

The Kerala High Court had discharged Kurien on April 4 this year from the proceedings of a private complaint in the Suryanelli serial rape case.The case relates to the abduction of a minor girl from her residence at Suryanelli in Idukki district by a bus conductor on the promise of marrying her.

He then confined her at various places in the state and allowed several people to sexually assault her under threat and coercion. The charge-sheet filed by the police named 42 people. The case was posted for trial before the Additional Sessions Court, specially constituted at Kottayam.

Though Kurien’s name had not originally figured in the charge-sheet, the victim later filed a private complaint against him before the trial court, which on examining seven witnesses mentioned in the complaint and on the basis of a preliminary inquiry, put him on trial on May 7, 1999.

The high court, however, discharged him this year.