In a big revelation in the 2017 actor assault case, the Kerala government told the Kerala High Court that the trial court had not recorded a major revelation by Manju Warrier, who is a prime witness in the case. Actor Dileep, Manju Warrier’s former husband, is accused of masterminding the abduction and rape of the woman actor, who was a friend of the couple. Manju had told the court that an attempt had been made to influence her through her daughter.
The government raised the allegation in its petition to seek to transfer the trial to another court. According to the petition accessed by TheNewsMinute, Manju Warrier was cross examined by the defence on February 27, 2020.
According to the petition, “In re-examination, the special prosecutor had asked her when she had last spoken to her daughter. Manju deposed that her daughter had contacted her on February 24,2020, asking her not to depose anything against her father (Dileep). Manju Warrier also said that she told her daughter that she was duty bound to reveal the truth before the court,” the petition read.
The petition also noted that when Manju was cross-examined, the questions were framed to discredit and project her as a bad mother who had not contacted her child for long.
This statement was not recorded by the court, stating that such a statement during reexamination was not admissible. The court also rejected the special prosecutor’s request to record the same.
The state has also said that the survivor watched the visuals of the assault along with many others in court. “The ordeal of the Victim/PW1 In watching and identifying the visuals recorded by the accused in itself is crucifiction and secondary victimisation. Even though it was an in-camera proceeding, 17 advocates were present for the accused of which 8 were for the 8 accused, which was also objected to by the prosecutor,” the state said.
According to the survivor, Bhama had told her that Dileep told her he would burn the survivor alive as he learnt that she was instrumental in his first marriage ending. The victim during a hearing had said that actor Bhama had conveyed this to her. However, the trial court declined to record this testimony, stating that it was only hearsay. The court also refused the request of the prosecution stating that it had to be recorded for corroboration.
The state has pointed out that a crucial prosecution witness called Vasudevan was examined to prove the alleged conspiracy hatched by Pulsar Suni and Dileep. "However, counsel for the 8th accused sought adjournment cross examination as usual which was allowed by the court. The Prosecution pointed out in the court that they sought adjournment only for the purpose of Intimidating and influencing the crucial witness."
In a petition filed on September 7, seeking to cancel Dileep's bail, the prosecution had submitted before the court that the witnesses were under pressure and faced threats and sometimes got favours from the accused, particularly Dileep. That petition also mentions this witness called Vasudevan.
As TNM had reported earlier, when the witness came back to court at a later time, a Thrissur-based lawyer entered the court claiming he was representing him. Though the judge asked him to leave the court, the lawyer waited outside the court hall. When the witness came out after deposition, the lawyer took him away in a car and this was captured on a CCTV camera placed near the court hall, says the prosecution's petition. The petition said that the day after this witness was taken away in a car, he appeared before court, and changed a part of his crucial statement.
The state government also said that the attitude of the trial court was also against the best interest of the state, as well as the victim.
According to the petition, on November 16, a prosecution witness Salim turned hostile in court and the prosecution asked him certain questions, with permission. “Within no time, the trial court got agitated and shouted at the special prosecutor that there were other witnesses waiting to be examined,” the petition said. As a result, the prosecution could not examine the witness in detail.
The state government’s petition also said that there were several instances, during witness examinations, where in the court refused to record the evidence which supported the prosecution and chose to record in a way that favoured the accused by adding “witness adds” and “witness clarifies”.
In a petition seeking to cancel the bail of the eighth accused (Dileep), the prosecution had submitted before the court that the witnesses were under pressure and faced threats and sometimes got favours from the accused, particularly the eighth accused. However, that petition has not been considered actively by the court.