Justice U.U. Lalit has recused himself from hearing the appeals in the Suryanelli rape case, as he had earler appeared for one of the accused persons.
The case involves kidnapping and rape of a 16 year old school girl from Suryanelli, Kerala in 1996. The rape survivor was initially abducted by a bus conductor and then handed over to several people who continuously raped her over a period of 40 days.
The Trial Court at Kottayam had, in September, 2000, convicted a total of 35 accused, sentencing them to various terms of 4 to 13 years of imprisonment. However, all of them were acquitted by the High Court, which ruled that the girl had consensual sex with the accused persons.
The Supreme Court was then approached. Much to the relief of the victim, a Bench comprising Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra, in 2013, set aside the High Court judgment and sent the case back for fresh disposal.
Finally, in April, 2014, the Kerala High Court held 24 people guilty. The prime accused, Dharmarajan, who was a lawyer at the time of commission of the offence, was handed down life imprisonment, while the others were awarded rigorous imprisonment for a term ranging from 3 to 13 years.