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Justice Basant’s comments on Suryanelli victim spark protests

Justice Basant’s comments on Suryanelli victim spark protests

Thiruvananthapuram: A retired judge's comments on the Suryanelli sex scandal victim recorded on video during a sting operation by a news channel here have sparked protests in the State.

Justice (retd.) R. Basant, who was in 2005 member of the Kerala High Court's division bench that acquitted all but one of the 35 accused in the Suryanelli sex scandal, was shown admonishing the victim and speaking ill about her character when she was a teenager, during a conversation with the TV reporter.

Later, Basant, speaking at a function near Kannur, said: "It was a private conversation and no permission was given to record it. This is unethical journalism."

A section of the audience, however, reacted sharply to his comments and walked out of the venue while the activists of youth wings of the Communist Party of India-Marxist and Bharatiya Janata Party started raising slogans against him.

They also burnt an effigy of the former judge, who is now practising law at the Supreme Court, in front of the Kerala state secretariat.

On the acquittal of the accused, the retired judge was shown on the video clip asking the reporter to read the judgment.

Reacting to the remarks made by Basant, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V.S. Achuthanandan said that he should be condemned.

"Ten smart girls should get together and slap Basant for his derogatory remarks," Achuthanandan said.

The victim's father too condemned the retired judge.

The activists of the women's wing of the CPI-M demanded that a case be registered against him with police and he should be arrested.

The sex scandal in Suryanelli in Idukki district took place in January 1996 when a 16-year-old was threatened, abducted and abused by a bus conductor. She was later sexually assaulted for 45 days by 42 men.

The case is back in the spotlight after the Supreme Court Jan 31 ordered a retrial, setting aside the acquittal order of the Kerala High Court.

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