New allegations surface against Dileep: How this can impact sexual assault case

TNM found at least two allegations levelled by Balachandrakumar, who claims to be actor Dileep’s friend, can become crucial to the prosecution’s case.
Kerala Actor Assault case accused and actor Dileep and director Balachandra Kumar
Kerala Actor Assault case accused and actor Dileep and director Balachandra Kumar
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A man who claims to be a friend of Malayalam actor Dileep has now alleged that he has seen 'Pulsar' Suni — accused number 1 in the Malayalam actor sexual assault case — at Dileep’s residence. Balachandrakumar, who says he has been in talks with Dileep to produce a movie called Pickpocket has made many other allegations through an interview with Reporter Live channel. Though many media houses have interviewed Balachandrakumar regarding his sensational allegations (including that Dileep had a copy of the video of the sexual assault before it was produced in court), TNM probed to see whether these revelations are actually relevant to the case. What we found is that at least two allegations levelled by Balachandrakumar can become crucial to the prosecution’s case.

The case pertains to the abduction and sexual assault of a young female actor in Kochi on February 17, 2017. A few days later, on February 23, 'Pulsar' Suni, a driver and someone known to be close to several people in the Malayalam film industry, was arrested, along with a few others. The big twist in the case came in July 2017, when the Aluva police arrested super star Dileep. The chargesheet filed against Dileep arraigned him as accused number 8 in the case and alleged that Dileep had paid contract money to 'Pulsar' Suni to abduct and assault the female actor, record visuals of the assault, and hand them over to Dileep.

When TNM met Balachandrakumar at his residence in Thiruvananthapuram, he had several allegations to make. He also handed over short audio clips of conversations that he had allegedly recorded clandestinely at Dileep’s house during his various visits. 

The main allegation raised by Balachandrakumar is that in December 2016, he met Dileep a day after the latter’s house warming event in Aluva. At some point, Balachandrakumar and Dileep’s brother Anoop went out in a car to get some food; Dileep had at this time asked Anoop to drop a young man to the bus stop on the way. The young man introduced himself to Balachandrakumar as Suni, and Anoop told him he was better known as ‘Pulsar’ Suni, Balachandrakumar claims. And Anoop, during the conversation, had asked 'Pulsar' Suni if he’d be ok carrying a large amount of cash on the bus, Balachandrakumar alleges. Balachandrakumar also alleges that Dileep has told him multiple times not to reveal this detail to anyone and said that he was coming forward as he feared for his life now.

Did Dileep have the assault visual with him?

Balachandrakumar alleges that on November 15, 2017, Dileep, his family members, and a VIP guest watched the video of the sexual assault at the actor’s residence. "I was supposed to go to Thiruvananthapuram that night. But Dileep wanted me to stay back as the discussions over our movie were not over. Dileep then asked (as if to everyone) ‘Pulsar Suniyude kroorakrithyangal kaanano? (Does anyone want to watch the cruelties of 'Pulsar' Suni?) The VIP who brought the video clips said that the audio was initially not clear, and that he had given it to a famous studio house in Kochi and boosted it twenty times. I heard what the male voice and the female voice in the video said quite clearly," Balachandran claims. 

There are two allegations here. First, that Dileep was in possession of the video of the assault. Second, that the audio was enhanced so that the conversation during the assault could be heard. 

A source in the prosecution team tells TNM that if the police ask for a re-investigation at this stage, Balachandrakumar’s allegations will give weightage to the prosecution’s stand that Dileep was in possession of the visuals before they were produced in court.

On February 20, 2017, three days after the assault, a lawyer named EC Poulose handed over a phone and a memory card to the Angamaly Magistrate court. These were given to him by 'Pulsar' Suni for safekeeping, and contained the visuals of the assault. The video was in the court’s possession and it was only on December 15, 2017 that Dileep and his lawyers were allowed to watch the visuals in the magistrate’s chamber. By then, forensic analysis said that the video had not been tampered with.

Exactly a month later, on January 15, 2018, Dileep’s counsel moved a petition saying that ‘though they watched the video using headphones in a restricted manner,’ the video was proof that this was a false case of rape. The petition quoted words and sentences uttered in the video and argued that the video was proof that the police case was fabricated. Dileep demanded that he should be given a copy of the video.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. TNM has learned that on January 22, 2018, the prosecution moved a counter to this petition and asked how Dileep and his lawyers heard the faint audio on the magistrate’s laptop. In fact, the prosecution went on to allege that Dileep’s detailed criticism of the video and audio proved that he must have watched it earlier, perhaps ‘in a most modern studio with high technical skill.’ The prosecution further alleged that 'Pulsar' Suni must have delivered the video to Dileep when he went to the Laksyah clothes store run by Dileep’s wife and actor Kavya Madhavan.

“See, the prosecution had doubts then itself that Dileep had access to the visuals, otherwise there is no way he could decipher the audio. The audio is too faint in the original video. Balachandrakumar’s statement needs to be examined,” a source in the prosecution team tells TNM.

Hostile witness: Sagar

Another allegation levelled by Balachandrakumar is that Dileep’s lawyers had tried to influence a crucial witness named Sagar. According to Balachandrakumar, he heard a conversation between Dileep and his brother Anoop about influencing a witness called Sagar, and that Sagar had met their lawyer. “Dileep asked Anoop if Sagar met their lawyer. I didn’t know then who Sagar was. Later, I realised that 'Sagar' was Sagar Vincent, a witness for the prosecution,” Balachandrakumar alleges. 

Sagar was an employee at Kavya Madhavan’s clothing store Laksyah in Kochi. He was a prosecution witness whose confession was recorded on video in front of a magistrate, where he had claimed that 'Pulsar' Suni and another man had visited Laksyah store on February 22, 2017, a day before his arrest. Sagar's confession before the magistrate was that he had informed Kavya’s sister-in-law and his friend Suneer that Pulsar Suni had come to the shop. However, when the case came for trial, both Sagar and Suneer changed their versions; the CCTV footage from Laksyah meanwhile went missing.

There was however a twist here. Suneer was convinced by the prosecution to not change his statement. TNM has learned that Suneer went back to the Special CBI court and said that Sagar had told him about Pulsar Suni’s visit, but he was forced to change his version at the behest of Dileep’s lawyers.

“Suneer’s statement has been recorded by the court that Dileep’s lawyers tried to influence him and Sagar. Balachandrakumar is making the same allegation and if he has any audio clips or other elements to prove this, why should there not be a reinvestigation?” the prosecution source tells TNM.

Will a reinvestigation not delay trial?

When new evidence appears during a trial, a police officer can approach the court for reinvestigation invoking section 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. However, this means that the trial, which has already been delayed for years, will get further delayed. 

“But this becomes unavoidable. How can the investigators ignore these statements? Also, there is another danger here. According to Balachandrakumar’s allegation, the video of the sexual assault is with people other than the court. This is dangerous. What if it is leaked even a few years later? The police cannot say we will not investigate,” a senior lawyer tells TNM. 

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