The Kerala High Court on Monday, November 15, granted bail to an accused in the actor abduction and assault case of 2017. The high court was hearing a bail application filed by Manikandan, who is the third accused in the case. Justice Sunil Thomas, who was hearing the case, observed that Manikandan had already spent four years in jail, and did not have a very big role in the abduction and assault case.
The charges against Manikandan are that he aided the first accused in the crime, Sunilkumar aka Pulsur Suni, and it is to be evaluated whether he was ‘trapped’ in the case by the first accused. According to the petition, Manikandan had “taken control” of the survivor’s vehicle when the crime was committed.
Manikandan had said in his appeal that very serious allegations have been raised against the first accused and the allegation against him was “comparatively less serious.” The court also noted that there are many witnesses who have not yet been interrogated or examined and hence trial may take some time.
“Considering that, out of 360 witnesses, 180 witnesses have been examined and additional 29 witnesses are to be examined, the possibility of the trial taking more time cannot be completely ruled out,” the court said.
The court, granting bail to Manikandan, said that the role played by him stands on a slightly lesser footing than that of the main act committed by the prime accused.
“Petitioner has no criminal antecedents. Having evaluated the entire facts and considering the nature of the allegation against the petitioner, he definitely needs a different consideration from that of the first accused. I find that the further continuation of the petitioner in jail may not be just,” the court said.
Manikandan has been granted bail against a bail bond of Rs one lakh, with two sureties for the like sum each. As a bail condition, has also been asked to surrender his passport and not leave Ernakulam district without the court’s permission until the trial in the case is completed.
According to the prosecution in the assault case, Manikandan, along with five others, hatched a criminal conspiracy to kidnap her, wrongfully confine her and record her. The survivor was proceeding in her vehicle along the National Highway and after stage-managing a fake accident, Manikandan, along with a few others, forcefully entered the vehicle, confined her and took her to Kochi, the prosecution told the court. It also said that on the way, the first accused entered the vehicle, sexually abused her for two hours and videographed the entire act. The entire act was filmed by the accused to blackmail the actor, the prosecution had said.
There are 10 accused in the case and initially, police arrested seven people. Dileep, the eighth accused in the case, was arrested subsequently and let out on bail later. It has been alleged that he masterminded the crime to take personal revenge on the survivor actor. Other key accused, including main accused Pulsar Suni, are still in prison.
With agency inputs