The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the Kerala high court's order acquitting 35 accused in the Suryanelli gangrape case of 1996 in which a 16-year-old girl was gang-raped for over 40 days.
A bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik sent the case back to the high court for a fresh look at it.
The court passed the order on an appeal filed by the State of Kerala challenging the acquittal of the accused in the case.
The Kerala high court had acquitted 35 people who were convicted by a special court in September 2000.
The high court had found only one person guilty -- of crime related to the sex trade -- and had sentenced him to five years in jail and a fine of Rs 50,000.
The girl from Suryanelli in Idukki district of Kerala was abducted in January 1996 and was transported from place to place across Kerala.
The apex court had, on January 3 this year, decided to hear the appeal against the acquittal of the 35 accused in the gang-rape case on an urgent basis within three weeks.
The bench had given the assurance after it noted that the appeal against the high court verdict had been pending in the apex court for the last eight years.