» News » P J Kurien is telling only half truths: CPI-M

P J Kurien is telling only half truths: CPI-M

February 22, 2013 22:10 IST
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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 Leela Menon, who had personally interviewed the girl.

If the CPI-M wanted to take action against Kurien on a political motive, then E K Nayanar who was chief minister during 1996-2001, could have easily asked his police officers to file a chargesheet booking Kurien, which he did not do. That itself proves that the theory of CPI-M conspiracy is baseless.

Why Kurien chose to file defamation case only against Deshabhimani and its editor E K Nayanar; he has to explain

Kurien's argument:  In the last 17 years, three police enquiries exonerated him, two of which were under the CPI-M.

Fact: The present case originated from the private complaint filed by the victim before the magistrate's court in March 1999, alleging that the police officers had deliberately excluded Kurien's name from the original chargesheet.

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 Kurien. Further, the investigating officers cannot exonerate any accused; it is for the trail court to exonerate Kurien like all the other 40 accused.

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

Fact:  False. The charges against 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 chargesheet itself. The 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, Kurien approached the high court through Crl.M.C.No.2411/1999 against it.

But the high court dismissed 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, the SC only disposed of the case permitting Kurien to withdraw his petition. In the second instance, it was the state of Kerala which filed the 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.

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

Fact: The 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 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, the SC took up the case again and quashed the HC order acquitting all the accused.

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 chargesheet has been contested now.

One of the former Investigating Officers, K K Joshua (retired superintendent of police), has disclosed to the media that that   Kurien had no alibi during the crucial 5 hour period, from 5pm to 10pm on February 19, 1996, wherein the rape could have occurred, except for a single witness -- Nair Service Society leader Sukumaran Nair, who said that they were together.

The wife of another witness 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.

Bharatiya Janata Party 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 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.

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.

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 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 Kurien, without hearing the survivor, the original complainant, which is contrary to the settled law on the issue.

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 United Democratic Front ministry gave him a clean chit, buying his alibi evidence.

Whereas all the other 40-plus 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.

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

Fact: 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.

Kurien's argument:  The exoneration by the high court is based on extensive perusal and examination of evidence and human witnesses.

Fact: Even assuming that the 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.

The government 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. 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 first information report was registered.

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 P J 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 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.

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 (such as the 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.

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.

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