The letter circulated to defend Prof.P.J.Kurien, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, claiming to bring out the truth about him is a clever attempt to conceal key facts of the case and to deflect the demand for his resignation from the constitutional position, by dragging CPI(M)’s name unnecessarily. A point-wise rebuttal is needed to appreciate the full facts of the case and the flaws in Prof. Kurien’s version.

The letter circulated to defend Prof.P.J.Kurien, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, claiming to bring out the truth about him is a clever attempt to conceal key facts of the case and to deflect the demand for his resignation from the constitutional position, by dragging CPI(M)’s name unnecessarily. A point-wise rebuttal is needed to appreciate the full facts of the case and the flaws in Prof. Kurien’s version.
Prof.Kurien’s argument : Prof. Kurien has argued that he was not an accused in the main Suryanelli rape case and hence the latest SC judgment which quashed the HC order is not linked to him

Fact: This is only partially true on technicalities. The fact is that Prof.Kurien had in his crl. revision petition filed in 3921/2006 in the HC, seeking discharge from the case registered against him in the sessions court, had relied heavily on the Kerala HC order (of Jan 2005) in the original Suryanelli rape case, acquitting the accused, in order to obtain a judgment in his favour. The HC judgment granting Kurien’s discharge itself was delivered 4th April 2007, more than 2 years after the HC acquitted all the accused in the original case from rape charge. The above HC judgment in Kurien’s favour had dismissed the victim girl’s testimony based on the earlier High Court finding that the girl’s testimony cannot be trusted and observing that all the accused in the original case, except one, were acquitted and noting that even if Kurien were to be tried, the same result would be obtained.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: This is a 17 year old case and the girl is repeating the same charges after 17 years.
Fact: The original man missing complaint was registered on 16.1.1996 and the kidnapping and rape charges were framed in February/March 1996 after the girl was returned by her captors. The girl recognized Prof.Kurien from press photos and a lodged complaint naming him, to the police on 26.3.1996 and also with the then Chief Minister on 28.3.1996. Ever since then, she and her parents have been fighting for justice for the past 17 years. The delay in our investigation and judicial system denied her justice all these years. Punishing the victim for the delay in the system is adding injustice to the victim and her family who are going through severe trauma in the last 17 years. In between, the High Court judgment of 2005 acquitting, all the 35 accused and convicted for rape by lower court, on questionable reasoning, shattered her hopes. But her appeal in the Supreme Court filed in 2005 came up for hearing in the SC only in January 2013, in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape case. SC decision to quash the HC acquittals has rekindled the hopes for justice. The victim girl who was raped 17 years ago cannot be subjected to torture again now, for sticking to her charge against the perpetrators of violence against her and refusing to let them go. She needs the support of the entire country in her fight for justice.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: In 1996, it was CPM mouth piece Deshabhmini which wrote that Prof.Kurien was involved in the heinous crime of raping girl
Fact: False. Neither CPM nor its daily had anything to do with the charges against Prof.Kurien. Deshabhimani daily published a story about Kurien’s involvement on 30.3.1996 only, two days after the girl had given a written complaint about Kurien to the Chief Minister and days after she informed it apart from Deshabhimani, all the other news papers in the state had published similar stories, including award winning reporter of Indian Express Ms.Leela Menon who had personally interviewed the girl. If CPIM wanted to take action against Prof.Kurien on political motive, then Sri.E.K.Nayanar who was Chief Minister during 1996-2001, could have easily asked his police officers to file a charge sheet booking Prof.Kurien, which CM did not do. That itself proves that the theory of CPIM conspiracy is baseless.
(Why Prof.Kurien chose to file defamation case only against Deshabhimani daily and its editor Com.E.K.Nayanar; he has to explain)

Prof. Kurien’s argument: In the last 17 years three police enquiries exonerated him, two of which were under CPI(M).

Fact : The present case originated from the private complaint filed by the victim girl before the Magistrate’s court in March 1999, alleging that the police officers had deliberately excluded Kurien’s name from the original charge sheet. The Magistrate after enquiry found prima facie evidence for registering a case. The case is yet to come up for trial. Hence there is no question of exonerating Prof.Kurien. Further, the investigating officers cannot exonerate any accused; it is for the trail court to exonerate Prof.Kurien like all the other 40 accused.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: In the last 17 years, the matter went for judicial scrutiny twice all the way up to the Supreme court. SC decided in his favour both the times.

Fact: False. The charges against Prof.Kurien did not come up for proper judicial scrutiny in any court except the Sessions Court which issued summons based on the private complaint. However no trial could take place, because Kurien challenged the issuing of charge sheet itself. SC never passed any judgment in Kurien’s favour. In the first instance, when the Magistrate dismissed his petition for quashing of the proceedings in the case based on the private complaint, Prof. Kurien approached the High Court through Crl.M.C.No.2411/1999 against it. But the High Court dismissed Prof. Kurien’s petition and upheld the lower court proceedings against him. Then he filed an SLP in the Supreme Court in 2006. The SC told him that it could not consider his prayer, but observed that he could approach the sessions court with a petition for discharge. Thereupon SC only disposed of the case permitting Prof. Kurien to withdraw his petition. In the second instance, it was the State of Kerala which filed SLP in the Supreme Court in 2007 against the April 2007 judgment of the High Court allowing Kurien’s discharge by quashing the sessions court order against him. The SC even rejected leave to file an appeal at the admittance stage itself, observing that the State government had no role in the case because the original private complaint was filed by the girl. The acquittal by the HC of all the accused in the original Suryanelli rape case, two years ago, was also brought up before the SC at the time of hearing. Thus there was neither any trial on the merits of the case before the Supreme Court, nor any order was passed by the SC exonerating Kurien, at any stage.

Prof. Kurien’s agrugment: When the SC closed the case in his favour in 2007, Sri.V.S.Achuthanandan then CM and the girl who are protesting now, kept quiet for the last 5 years.

Fact: SC did not close the case in Kurien’s favour, but only dismissed the petition questioning the state’s right to file an appeal in the case. It maybe noted that the appeal against the acquittal of all the accused main Suryanelli rape case was pending before the SC, awaiting trial, from 2005 to 2013. All the people including the victim girl and the state government were waiting for justice from the SC. This period of waiting due to delays in the judicial system cannot be turned against the victim now. Only in January 2013, in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape, SC took up the case again and quashed the HC order acquitting all the accused.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: It was impossible for Kurien to be present in the scene of the crime, due to the large distance from Thiruvalla to Kumily

Fact: This argument of Prof.Kurien, based on some alibi evidence of witnesses who are mainly his friends and well wishers, produced by himself, which was conveniently used by the police investigating teams to exclude Kurien from the charge sheet has been contested now. One of the former Investigating Officers, Mr. K K Joshua (retired Superintendent of Police), has disclosed to the media that that Mr P J Kurien had no alibi during the crucial 5 hour period, from 5pm to 10pm on 19.2.1996, wherein the rape could have occurred, except for a single witness -Nair Service Society leader Mr. Sukumaran Nair, who said that they were together. The wife of another witness Sri.Idicula (Kurien’s friend, now deceased) has told the media now on camera that Kurien had left their house at around 5pm and not at 8pm, as was made out by the police. BJP leader K.S.Rajan another witness said to have seen Kurien at Idicula’s house has now denied giving any such statement to the police about the date and time of meeting Kurien. Thus there are a number of contradictions which have surfaced now in the statements of alibi witnesses produced by Kurien before the police who “exonerated” him, without bringing the witnesses to the court. The High Court which ruled in Kurien’s favour wrongly found that it was not possible for Mr. Kurian to go to Kumilly from Thirruvallu that night as the journey would have taken five hours. The journey however, only takes two and a half hours.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: The witnesses presented in the private complaint of the girl surfaced only after two years

Fact: The delay in the filing of private complaint and the witnesses’ accounts were examined by the magistrate before committing the case against Kurien. The Kerala High court in its judgment in 2006 rejecting Kurien’s complaint for quashing the magistrate court order accepting the private compliant, had also verified these arguments and rejected them. Prof.Kurien has conveniently suppressed this HC judgment (in Crl.M.C.No.2411/1999) passed against him and not reversed by the SC, while quoting from all other judgments said to be in his favour. Two witnesses gave evidence before the Magistrate that they had seen Prof.P.J. Kurien at Kumilly that day; the High Court which ruled in Kurien’s favour in 2007, however, casually dismissed these witnesses as being unreliable without assigning any reasons for the finding. The High Court also gave its decision, discharging P.J Kurien, without hearing the survivor, the original complainant, which is contrary to the settled law on the issue.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: Could Kurien have influenced the investigations twice over?

Fact: Yes. He was a Union Minister when the alleged rape occurred. The original investigating team under the UDF ministry gave him a clean chit, buying his alibi evidence. Whereas all the other 40+ accused were booked on the basis of the rape victim girl’s statement only, as permitted under law; why only Kurien’s name was excluded? The subsequent investigating officers only followed this path.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: New revelations are only modified versions of the old allegations.

Fact: Prof.Kurien is trying to brush away the new revelations in a casual manner. The position according to law is different. The main accused in the case Dharmarajan has given an interview to the TV reporter stating that it was he who took Kurien in his ambassador car to Kumily rest house where the girl was kept. This is a new revelation which has not come up before any investigation team or court before. This statement, even if it has been made by a co-accomplice in a crime, has jurisdictional value and should be investigated according to law by registering a fresh case against both Kurien and Dharmarajan. In fact. The present state government has ordered reinvestigations in many closed criminal cases based on new revelations by the alleged accomplices.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: The exoneration of Kurien by the High Court is based on extensive perusal and examination of evidence and human witnesses.

Fact: Even assuming that High Court had passed its order of April 2007, discharging Kurien on the basis of available evidence at that time, it is a settled fact of law that discharge is not acquittal. The court can at any point of time reopen the cases and bring charge sheet against Kurien based on the new facts brought before it. Govt. can also order reinvestigation based on the new revelations and contradictions. Second, the HC which passed judgment in Kurien’s favour, did not hear the side of the girl who was the original complainant. Strangely, she was not even made a respondent by Kurien when he challenged the order of the Sessions court rejecting his discharge petition. This was denial of natural justice. Mr Kurien’s pleas of alibi, distance, time factor, telephone call records etc. were never part of any judicial scrutiny in the manner known to law. Such things were examined in the Revision Petition filed by Kurien by the High Court, illegally, outside the scope of revision. It is unheard in law that rather than examining the case of victim, the defense of an accused is investigated by the police first and given acquittal even before trial. That is what happened in this case initially. In all rape cases, statement of the victim corroborated by the statements of other witnesses is enough to convict a person, but in the present case not even a F.I.R was registered.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: Sheer absurdity of the allegation…
Imagine a Union Minister… to commit this sort of crime?

Fact: More heinous crimes have been committed by many Ministers and top political leaders. It is not the high position of the accused which will prove his innocence or otherwise. It is also not our contention that Prof.PJ.Kurien should be treated as guilty. He is innocent, according to law, till he is proven guilty and convicted by a court of law. For this, he has to subject himself to trial procedure before a court of law, which he tried to scuttle from the beginning by resorting to other means. Now that fresh facts have come to light and SC has quashed the high court order acquitting the accused persons in the original rape case and with the victim girl insisting on the rape charge against Prof.Kurien, made by her 17 years ago, it is only fair that the benefit of doubt should be given to the victim girl and a just trial should take place. All the alibi evidence brought by Kurien will have to be examined by the sessions court and it will give its judgment as to whether Kurien’s alibi witnesses should be believed or the girl should be believed.

Prof. Kurien’s argument: The girl stated in an interview that she was satisfied with the enquiry

Fact: The girl’s interview to Vanitha Magazine was in respect of enquiry against the other accused. Kurien is trying to selectively rely upon Newspapers and Magazines (like Malayala Manorama group) which have been supporting him all along. The girl has been insisting for the past 17 years that Kurien and others had raped her; in spite of the reverses in the court cases, inducements, threats and isolation in her personal life. Prof. Kurien’s defense is a premature defense by an accused, which should be tested in a court of law as per the Criminal Jurisprudence prevailing in this country.

(CPI-M Parliamentary Party Office)