In a setback to the Kerala government, the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the state’s plea to change the trial court judge, who is hearing the actor assault case. Upholding the Kerala High Court order that there was no requirement to change the judge, the apex court allowed the state government time to appoint a new Special Public Prosecutor to replace the Advocate A Suresan who resigned from the post.
The state government had moved the SC after the High Court bench rejected its plea to change the trial court judge. In its plea, the state had argued that the trial court judge has a “biased attitude”. The survivor actor had also earlier moved the HC alleging that the judge was “hostile” towards her. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court single bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar reportedly come down on the state government, asking it not to air allegations against a judge.
The 2017 case pertains to the abduction and sexual assault of a woman actor in Kerala. Malayalam actor Dileep is the key accused, who is alleged to have masterminded the crime, over a personal grudge against the survivor. The case witnessed a major twist after the survivor, Special Public Prosecutor, as well as the state government alleged that the trial court judge was biased against her and the prosecution. The SPP resigned from the post soon after the Kerala HC dismissed the petitions of the survivor actor and the state government to change the judge.
The case was being tried at the Additional Special Sessions Court in Ernakulam by Justice Honey M Varghese. Notably, the case was handed over to the court on the special plea of the survivor that a woman judge should consider the case.
But the survivor came out with serious allegations over six months into the trial. The actor had told the HC bench that she was “harassed” by the counsel of Dileep during the trial but the judge had sat as a “mute spectator” without intervening or stopping the harassment. TNM learned that several questions which were insulting and questioned the modesty of the survivor were raised in court by the defense counsels.
SPP Suresan had also moved the court stating that the trial court made grave remarks against the prosecution. According to sources, these allegations were raised in the HC and the Supreme Court in the state government's plea.
Meanwhile, as per sources, the trial court has yet not considered the petition moved by the prosecution to cancel bail of accused actor Dileep on grounds that he violated bail order. This despite two prosecution witnesses coming out stating that they were threatened to change statements. Sources told TNM that a prosecution witness even filed a complaint before the trial court pertaining to the alleged threat by the accused.
Sources said that evidence submitted by survivor as well as actor Manju Warrier, who is the former wife of Dileep, was not recorded by the trial court despite the prosecution's demand, on the grounds that it was hearsay evidence.