Justice Honey M Varghese, Special Judge 3 of the CBI special court in Ernakulam, who is also the trial court judge in the sensational Kerala actor assault case, will be transferred from her post next week. The trial proceedings in the case, which had been stalled due to the COVID-19 lockdown, is also set to resume next week. With only a few more days left for Justice Honey Varghese to be relieved from the post, uncertainty prevails as the post has not filled yet.
It was in January that the Kerala High Court issued general transfer orders for judges. As per the order, Justice Honey Varghese will be taking charge as the Additional District Judge for trial in cases relating to atrocities and sexual violence against women and children in Kozhikode. According to sources, she will be relieved from the present post on June 25.
The Kerala actor assault case pertains to the abduction and sexual assault of a leading Malayalam female actor in 2017. Actor Dileep is accused of masterminding the assault, which had jolted Kerala. Justice Honey Varghese was given charge of the trial in the case in February 2019 following a plea by the survivor actor in the High Court that a woman judge should hear the case. But now, it is not yet known whether another female judge will be replacing Justice Honey Varghese.
A source in the prosecution told TNM, “There is no need for apprehension. It is a general transfer order and quite usual. Moreover, witness examination is not fully over yet. Many prime witnesses are yet to be examined. If witness examination had been completed and then the judge was transferred, it would’ve been worrisome. Now in this instance, the judge can give temporary charge to someone else till the HC posts someone new, and we think that the HC will not delay the posting.”
The trial was supposed to resume on Monday but was postponed to June 22 after accused Dileep’s counsel asked for an adjournment due to medical reasons.
It was after more than three years of the crime that the trial in the case finally began in December 2019. Dileep, the eighth accused in the case, has from the initial months of the case been trying to delay the commencement of trial. He had also appealed up to the Supreme Court to get access to the controversial assault visuals. This paved the way for a major delay as the SC stayed further proceedings in the case for six months due to technicalities.