A trial court on Monday framed charges against Malayalam film actor Dileep and nine other accused in the case of abducting and sexually assaulting a female actor in February 2017. All 10 accused were present at the additional special sessions court in Ernakulam when the charges were framed against them. All of them have denied the charges.
According to the top lawyer associated with the case, accused number 7, Charly Thomas, has only been charged under section 212 for harbouring or giving shelter to the main accused Pulsar Suni, in Coimbatore after the crime. Accused nine and 10 — Sanil Kumar and Vishnu — who confessed they acted on specific instructions of Suni, have been charged under sections 120 A (criminal conspiracy) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
The other accused — Pulsar Suni, Martin Antony, Manikandan B, Vijeesh VP, Salim, Pradeep and Dileep — have been charged under the same sections, most of them mentioned in the chargesheet, including sections 120 A (criminal conspiracy), 120 B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage), 354 (assault or criminal force in woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354 B (assault or use of criminal force on woman with intent to disrobe) 357 (assault or criminal force in attempt wrongfully to confine a person), 376 D (gang rape), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
The trial is likely to commence by the end of January 2020, and the summons will be sent to the accused on Tuesday, the lawyer told TNM.
On Saturday, the court had dismissed the discharge plea filed by Dileep, seeking to exclude him from the list of accused. The court had admitted the prosecution’s argument that there is prima facie evidence against him in the crime and dismissed the plea of the actor, who is eighth accused in the case.
In light of the Supreme Court order in November 2019 that the trial should be completed in six months, the court had also not allowed a plea by the actor to grant him 10 days to file an appeal in a higher court.
A woman judge is hearing the case, in-camera. In February 2019, while considering a plea seeking to transfer the case to a Sessions Court headed by a woman judge to conduct the trial, the High Court had ordered the CBI special court Judge-III Ernakulam Honey M Varghese, to complete the trial expeditiously.
On December 19, Dileep, along with his lawyers and a technical expert, had examined the visuals of the sexual assault for the third time.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had directed that the actor be allowed to inspect the records to enable him to present an effective defence during the trial.
In February 2017, the female actor was abducted and sexually assaulted in a moving car en route to Ernakulam, and the crime was also filmed. Seven people, including the prime accused 'Pulsar' Suni, were arrested in connection with the case. Dileep was subsequently arrested and arraigned as an accused.
(With inputs from PTI)