The apex court had in September 2020 granted time till February 16, 2022, to complete the trial in the 2017 actor assault case.

Malayalam actor Dileep, accused in actor abduction and assault case
news Court Monday, January 24, 2022 - 16:46

The Supreme Court on Monday, January 24, disposed of the application filed by the Kerala government seeking an extension of six months to complete the trial in the case. A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Khanwilkar said that the apex court will leave it to the discretion of the trial court to take an appropriate view of the case. The apex court had in September 2020 granted time till February 16, 2022, to complete the trial in the 2017 actor assault case, which was the third time the apex court granted an extension. Actor Dileep is the eighth accused in the 2017 sensational actor abduction and assault case, a crime believed to have been masterminded by him.

“We dispose of this application with liberty to the trial court judge to take an appropriate view in the matter. We give liberty to the trial court to take appropriate action in that regard,” the SC said.

Earlier this month, on January 5, the Kerala government had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking an extension of six months to complete the trial in the case after fresh allegations emerged against Dileep. A new FIR was filed against Dileep after an audio clip in which a voice is heard talking about an alleged conspiracy to murder Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) Baiju Paulose, who is also the investigating officer in the actor assault case.

Appearing for Dileep, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi opposed the state government’s application and said that the state is playing a “mischievous game” to delay the trial.

“State was attempting to delay the trial in many ways. The first attempt was an attempt to change the judge, which became unsuccessful. The second was the resignation of the Prosecutor,” Rohatgi told the apex court. Dileep has reposed his faith multiple times in the trial happening in the court of Principal District and Sessions Judge of Ernakulam, Judge Honey Verghese.

The trial of the case began in November 2019, more than two and a half years after the assault on the actor. The actor, prominent in south Indian films and especially Malayalam, was assaulted in a car in Kochi by a gang of men in February 2017, when she was returning from a shooting location. The assault was also filmed.

A few days later, Pulsar Suni was arrested by the police and charged as the main accused in the case. Months later, Dileep, alleged to be the mastermind of the attack, was arrested and jailed for nearly three months before he got out on bail.

In the two years following this, Dileep filed various pleas in courts, demanding several documents including the video of the sexual assault, delaying the trial. During the trial, many witnesses of the prosecution also turned hostile. The prosecution had asked for a transfer of the case to another court after derogatory remarks were allegedly made by the trial court judge against the Special Public Prosecutor. However, this did not happen and by the end of 2021, two Special Public Prosecutors had resigned from the case.

It is following this that the state government asked for an extension of the trial. In the meantime, a filmmaker called Balachandrakumar, a former friend of Dileep, came out with fresh allegations against the actor, bringing out incriminating audio clips against him. Some of these audio clips contain snippets of a conspiracy to kill police officials who investigated the actor assault case. Alleging that these voices are of Dileep and his relatives, police officer Baiju Paulose registered a complaint against Dileep and six others.

Dileep went to court seeking anticipatory bail in the new case. The court allowed the police to question Dileep and the other accused in the case for three days before the next hearing on Tuesday.

Amid this, Dileep filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court in response to the government’s application and asked the court not to allow the extension of the trial, which he claimed was nearly over before Balachandrakumar came up with the new allegations.

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