New Delhi: In a major development, the Supreme Court on Thursday quashed a Kerala High Court verdict acquitting 35 men accused of raping a 16-year-old girl from Suryanelli in Kerala in 1996.
The apex court, while asking the Kerala High Court to take a fresh look at the case, said that the state high court did not look at the evidence properly.
The apex court directed the Kerala High Court to pronounce its order within six months.
According to reports, a minor girl from Suryanelli in Idukki district of Kerala was abducted in January 1996 and raped by 42 men over 40 days. She was moved from place to place in the state.
On September 6, 2000, the trial special court convicted 36 people and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment of varying terms. But the Kerala High Court acquitted 35 convicts. Only one person was held guilty and sentenced to five years in jail.
The high court held the opinion that the girl had been a willing partner, but the Supreme Court today found fault with this view.
An appeal against the high court verdict has been before the Supreme Court for almost seven years. On January 10, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir had assured that the Suryanelli and other pending cases of sexual offences would be fast-tracked.
With Agency inputs