Kerala HC says cops can question Dileep for 3 days, and gives a warning to the actor

The Kerala High Court observed that it has received material in a sealed cover from the prosecution, which indicates there is a need to conduct further investigation.
Actor Dileep, accused in 2017 actor assault and abduction case, in a white shirt
Actor Dileep, accused in 2017 actor assault and abduction case, in a white shirt
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The Kerala High Court has granted the Kerala Crime Branch three days to question actor Dileep and four other accused in connection with the fresh FIR filed against them for allegedly conspiring to kill police officers investigating the 2017 actor assault case. The court was hearing an anticipatory bail plea filed by Dileep after he was booked along with others. The case was filed based on audio clips submitted by a man named Balachandra Kumar, who has also given statements claiming that he was present in Dileep's house when the conspiracy was allegedly hatched. 

In an interim order, Justice Gopinath P of the Kerala High Court said that while Dileep may not be arrested till January 27, the actor must appear before the police for questioning on January 23, 24 and 25, from 9 am to 8 pm. Justice Gopinath said Dileep, his brother Anoop, brother-in-law Suraj and other accused shall be available for interrogation & such other investigation as may be necessary.

The court also gave a strict warning to Dileep. “Any attempt to interfere with the course of investigation will be viewed very seriously by this court. The Senior Public Prosecutor shall place a report of any material of investigation in a sealed cover,” the High Court said. “"It is made clear that any attempt to subvert the investigation will result in declining bail. Please tell your clients that I am very very serious and that any violation will be dealt with seriously. Don't attempt to do anything unnecessary. Don't even think about it,” the HC reiterated.  

The court observed that it has received material in a sealed cover which indicates there is a need to conduct further investigation. Though the court was not willing to disclose the evidence which has been given by the Prosecution, it opined that the submission showed Dileep's influential nature.

In the new FIR filed against him, Dileep is accused to have plotted a conspiracy with five others to murder five police officials including DySP Baiju Paulose, who investigated the actor assault case of Kochi. Dileep and two others had moved court seeking pre-arrest bail after this FIR was filed. 

The High Court said that the allegations against Dileep are serious and the state has the right to probe those. “I'm very worried about the investigation not progressing in the proper manner if they are released on bail,” Justice Gopinath remarked during the hearing. The High Court said that if the prosecution makes the case that Dileep has interfered in the investigation, Dileep’s bail will be cancelled. The HC also said that the prosecution has submitted certain material in a sealed cover, which indicated that a further investigation is necessary. 

Appearing for Dileep, advocate Raman Pillai contested that there is “no evidence” to link Dileep to the actor assault case and hence this new case has been filed against the actor. The defence argued that Dileep had an “outburst,” which cannot be an offence.  

The court noted that in the 2017 sexual assault case too, many prosecution witnesses have turned hostile. “But the submission shows the influential nature of the accused, it has weighed on me,” the court remarked, adding 

Arguing against the actor’s bail plea, the prosecution, represented by Director General of Prosecution TA Shaji, said that whenever they try to get evidence, the accused and others with him are there to "pounce on" the witness. Referring to the trial in the actor assault case, the defence counsel said that 20 witnesses had turned hostile, suggesting how influential the accused can be if he is out on bail.

The police argued in court that they are not just “mere allegations” against Dileep and that they have digital evidence to prove that Dileep’s outburst, allegedly caught on audio, is not an “isolated outburst.” The prosecution counsel added Dileep is not an ordinary man, he has the power to influence the probe. 

The court will hear the matter further on January 27. 

The hearing comes on the backdrop of fresh allegations against Dileep, who is the eighth accused in the 2017 actor abduction and assault case. ​​Dileep, his brother P Sivakumar and brother-in-law TN Suraj had approached the court after a non-bailable case was registered against them by the Crime Branch of Kerala Police. The FIR was filed after an audio clip in which a voice, which reportedly belongs to Suraj, is heard talking about an alleged conspiracy to murder Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) Baiju Paulose, who is also the investigating officer in the case. 

On January 19, the Kerala Crime Branch which is investigating the new case, filed a 68-page affidavit with the court, strongly opposing Dileep's anticipatory bail.

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