Kochi: Observing that the law was "quite shy" in protecting rights of victims of offence, Kerala High Court on Thursday referred to a Division Bench the petition filed by the Suriyanelli rape victim challenging the discharge of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien from the case.
The court had in 2007 acquitted Kurien for lack of evidence.
Challenging the decision, the victim, who was allegedly raped by 40-odd men in 1996 when she was only 16, approached the court stating that the order was passed without hearing her. She was also not made party to earlier proceedings, it was submitted.
Referring the petition to the higher bench, Justice P Bhavadasan observed that the issue involved in the case was likely to arise in future also. Therefore an authoritative decision will be `highly profitable`.
"Law initially gave little priority to the victim of an offence. Entire process had been on the rights of the accused, which was zealously guarded by courts, ignoring rights of victims in most of the cases," the judge observed.
It was often forgotten that even the victims enjoy fundamental rights and by virtue of offence committed on them, their fundamental rights are infringed, the court held.
It said the law is `quite shy` in protecting the right of victims.
The victims receive `little consideration` and they had almost no rights whatsoever except to receive compensation under sect 357 CrPc, the court added.
Justice Bhavadasan also flayed the stand of the previous CPI-M led LDF government by noting that attitude displayed by the state in the discharge plea appears to be `disappointing` and the state had raised only formal objections against discharge.
A special court had sentenced 36 persons to rigorous imprisonment in 2000. However, on an appeal, the High Court acquitted all of them except one stating that the girl had consensual sex with all of them.
The case was pending in the Supreme Court for over 8 years.
After the incident of gangrape of a paramedic student in a Delhi bus in December last year, the case came up before the apex court which reversed the earlier high court judgment.
An accused, Dharmarajan, was arrested after he spoke to a TV channel some months ago. Though Kurien was never made an accused in the case, the victim, who recognised him after his photograph appeared in a newspaper report, had alleged that he was among her tormentors.
A court in Idukki had in March this year rejected a plea by the victim for a re-probe into the alleged involvement of Kurien in the case, holding that there was no new ground for a fresh investigation.