The Suryanelli rape case (also called the Suryanelli sex scandal)

The Suryanelli rape case (also called the Suryanelli sex scandal) refers to a case of kidnapping and subsequent rape of a 16-year-old school girl from Suryanelli, Kerala, India, in 1996. The girl was allegedly lured with the promise of marriage on 16 January 1996 and kidnapped. She was allegedly raped by 37 of the 42 accused persons, over a period of 40 days. The remaining had abetted the crime. After he was named, the issue was politicised, due to a then upcoming general election. Several women's rights activists like K. Ajitha and Suja Susan George,and women's organisations, like NFIW and Anweshi, have taken an interest in the case.

The Suryanelli rape case (also called the Suryanelli sex scandal) refers to a case of kidnapping and subsequent rape of a 16-year-old school girl from Suryanelli, Kerala, India, in 1996. The girl was allegedly lured with the promise of marriage on 16 January 1996 and kidnapped. She was allegedly raped by 37 of the 42 accused persons, over a period of 40 days. The remaining had abetted the crime. After he was named, the issue was politicised, due to a then upcoming general election. Several women's rights activists like K. Ajitha and Suja Susan George,and women's organisations, like NFIW and Anweshi, have taken an interest in the case.
On 2 September 2000, a Special Court in Kottayam found 35 of 39, of those who faced trial, to be guilty of various charges. On 12 July 2002, the prime accused - Dharmarajan was found guilty of various charges and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, he left jail on bail on 25 October 2002 and then disappeared. On 20 January 2005, the Kerala High Court acquitted all 35 convicts, except prime accused Dharmarajan, due to lack of evidence collaborating the victim's statement. The court found her to be untrustworthy. The verdict was criticised by women's rights activists. In January 2013, the Supreme Court of India repealed the acquittals awarded by the High Court and ordered a fresh hearing. In early February 2013, Dharmarajan appeared in a TV interview and said that P. J. Kurien was involved and the police covered it up. This stirred a controversy and politicians began demanding Kurien's resignation. The High Court of Kerala has discharged Prof Kurien from all charges on 4 April 2007. The Supreme Court also confirmed it. It has been refuted in Indian Parliament too. Soon after, Dharmarajan was arrested. In May, he retracted his previous statements., Kurien was acquitted by the Kerala High Court.On 4 April 2014, the Kerala High Court upheldDharmarajan's life sentence and acquitted 7 of the 35 surviving accused. As of October 2015, the case is in appeal at the Supreme court .

Pallath Joseph "P. J." Kurien is an Indian politician, a social worker and educationist. He was the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India, until he retired on 30 June 2018.ControversyKurien was alleged to be an accused in the Suryanelli rape case, though his name was never included in the list of accused. There are four inquiries which exonerated Kurien, three inquiries were held under the Chief Ministership of E. K. Nayanar, who himself used the allegation against Kurien during 1996 elections, and was also a respondent in the defamation case filed by Kurien. During these three inquiries, Kurien was only an opposition MP; Congress Party being out of power both at the Centre and in Kerala. Kurien has maintained his innocence and police investigations into the case have also deemed him innocent.There are speculations such as the alleged controversy against Kurien is politically motivated and his political power even led to the exoneration. Sessions Judge Abraham Mathew in his order held that the victim’s plea for inclusion of Kurien in the sex scandal case was not maintainable