Controversial comments by former Kerala High Court Judge R Basant about Suryanelli gang rape case on Monday echoed in the state Assembly with the government rejecting Left Democratic Front demand for registering a criminal case against him following which the Opposition staged a walk out.
Responding to the opposition's notice for an adjournment motion on the issue, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the government did not agree with the views of Justice Basant as telecast by a channel which had recorded him speaking on a hidden camera.
Basant, one of the judges who acquitted 35 accused in the Suryanelli case in 2005, had said on Saturday that "there was ample evidence to show the girl was used for child prostitution, which is not rape," sparking protests across the state.
The controversy surfaced at a time when the Left and women's organisations have been demanding the removal of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson P J Kurien, also allegedly involved in the 17-year old case, after the victim recently wanted her lawyer to explore possibility of seeking a fresh probe against the Congress leader.
Raising the issue in the House, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan of Communist Party of India-Marxist wanted the government to book Basant under the relevant provisions of the recently promulgated ordinance providing for harsher punishments in cases of offences against women.
He also wanted the government to remove Basant, now practicing in the Supreme Court, from the panel of senior advocates of the state.
He also demanded that the advocate general initiate contempt of court proceedings against the former judge since some of his comments amounted to questioning the January 31 Supreme Court verdict, which set aside the high court order acquitting 35 accused and directed a re-trial in the case.
Chandy said the government was not a party to the comments made by Basant and he did not agree with them.
Charging the LDF with trying to politicise the issue, he said the government could act only within the purview of the law in these matters.
Leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan dubbed Basant's comments as deplorable and trooped his colleagues out of the House protesting the government's reluctance to take a case against the retired judge.