In his anticipatory bail plea filed before the Kerala High Court, actor Dileep and his lawyers have once again indulged in tarnishing the survivor actor by casting aspersions on her version of the sexual assault. Dileep, who is accused of masterminding the sexual assault of the Kerala actor, filed the bail plea after the Kerala police registered a new FIR against him and five others, including his brother Anoop and brother-in-law Suraj. On December 25, director Balachandrakumar, a former friend of Dileepâ€™s, made several allegations against him. He also submitted audio clips in which male voices can be heard discussing a plan to cause physical harm to the investigating police officers of the case. The FIR pertains to this new discovery in the case.
While Dileep is entitled to a legal defence, he has repeatedly taken to casting aspersions on the survivor. Days before he was arrested in 2017, Dileep gave an interview to a TV channel in which he said that the survivor was to be blamed for the incident because she had been friends with Pulsar Suni, accused number 1 in the case. This was a clear instance of victim blaming. In court, too, the survivor has said that she was harassed by Dileepâ€™s lawyers multiple times. In her petition to the Kerala High Court requesting for a change in the judge, the survivorâ€™s counsel said, â€śThere were many occasions in the last 11 months in which I cried inconsolably inside the special court room, unable to withstand the harassment and character assassination unleashed by lawyers representing the eighth accused [referring to Dileep]. Though the judge was a woman, she remained insensitive on all such occasions and facilitated the attack under the guise of cross-examination which lasted for more than five hours. I donâ€™t have any hope about a free trial at the designated court. The case must be shifted to any other court immediately and I would not insist like in the past to have a woman judge at the chair.â€ť
Although the new FIR pertains to Dileepâ€™s alleged intention to murder the investigating officers and is not directly related to the survivor, the accused and his lawyers have used the opportunity to imply that the entire case is false, questioning the visual of the assault.
In a subsequent point, the FIR says that the investigating officer, Baiju Paulose, and Sandhya ADGP (who was previously part of the team) were present at the postings of the case in the Supreme Court to prevent Dileep from obtaining a copy of the memory card. This despite the Supreme Court refusing his plea and ruling that the survivor's privacy and safety is important and the visuals cannot be handed over to an accused. It must be noted here that Dileep has watched the visual of the assault in the Angamaly magistrate's chamber. It was his plea to get a copy of the video that was rejected by three courts â€” the Magistrate court, the Kerala High Court, and the Supreme Court.
It is to be noted that director Balachandrakumar, who raised fresh allegations against Dileep in December 2021, had said that the actor had been in possession of the assault visual even before he had viewed it in the court. Heâ€™d also said that the audio in the clip had been enhanced manifold. The clip in possession of the court, on the other hand, has unclear audio, raising the question of how Dileep and his lawyers were able to cite audio instances from the clip to claim that the sexual assault was staged to trap him.
Further, the insinuation that Dileep had been denied the chance to submit the clip for forensic examination is false. In 2020, the court had, on Dileepâ€™s request, sent the clip once again to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory for examination. The lab had also submitted its report to him.
Shaming survivors of sexual assault is a common strategy of the defence. It is due to the humiliating process that many survivors choose silence over pursuing justice. The woman actor in the case has shown remarkable courage and resilience in her fight despite the burden that she has had to bear. While the accused in a case must be given every opportunity to prove their innocence, it must not be at the cost of shaming survivors of sexual violence. Itâ€™s not only the prosecution that must question such tactics but also law enforcers, the judiciary, and the public.