In 2000, a special court in Kottayam had convicted 35 people for various offences in the Suryanelli gang-rape case, and sentenced prime accused Dharmarajan to life imprisonment.
Later, a Kerala High Court division bench acquitted all of the accused, except Dharmarajan, whose life term was commuted to five years’ imprisonment.
In January 2013, the Supreme Court reversed the high court verdict and recommended fresh hearing after considering appeals by the Kerala government and the victim.
The Suryanelli gang-rape case became especially controversial after comments made by Justice R Basant, who was a part of the bench that acquitted all but Dharmarajan in the case.
During a sting operation which was conducted by a news channel, he called the victim “deviant”, “not normal” and claimed that she was not held against her will leading to a controversy. There were widespread condemnation of the remark.
The minor girl was abducted by Raju, a bus conductor, before she was handed over to other men by Usha. Both Raju and Usha have been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.