How the accused in Malayalam actor sexual assault case have delayed justice for 2 yrs

In his latest delay tactic, Dileep submitted a plea before the Supreme Court, asking for an adjournment of one week in the case as his lawyer is indisposed.
How the accused in Malayalam actor sexual assault case have delayed justice for 2 yrs
How the accused in Malayalam actor sexual assault case have delayed justice for 2 yrs
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February 17, 2017 was a day that shocked people across the country. A Malayalam actor was abducted and sexually assaulted on her way back from work – and soon, a top actor in the industry, Dileep, was accused of masterminding the assault. Two years later, the survivor is still waiting for justice – while the accused in the case, Dileep, has made multiple attempts to delay the same.

Dileep has filed plea after plea in various courts, demanding various documents – including the video of the sexual assault itself – to delay the trial in the case. He’s asked for his passport to be released so he can travel to Dubai, he’s demanded a CBI investigation into the case, he’s tried to stop all proceedings in the Supreme Court until he gets his way… The actor, according to lawyers who have been closely following the case, has tried every trick in the book to push the trial.

Dileep’s motive, arrest, and bail

While the assault happened on February 17, 2017, it was only in June 2017 that Dileep was named in the case, after his name allegedly cropped up in a jail inmate’s letter – specifically, an inmate who shared a cell with Pulsar Suni, the main accused in the sexual assault case. At this point, Dileep claimed he and his friend, director Nadirsha, were being blackmailed by Pulsar Suni’s friend.

On June 28, Dileep and Nadirsha were questioned for 13 hours. During further investigation, Pulsar Suni confessed that he was conspiring with Dileep – and claimed that Dileep’s motive was personal. He was miffed with the survivor over a personal reason, and wanted revenge. Suni also revealed that in January 2017, they had attempted to abduct and assault the survivor in Goa.

Dileep was finally arrested in the case on July 20, 2017, and spent 85 days in jail. During this time, he applied for bail several times, and was rejected each time, until he got bail on October 3 – and, as experts predicted while Dileep was in jail, the trial has been delayed ever since he got out.

The delay tactics begin

On November 22, 2017, the investigating team in the case filed a subsidiary chargesheet in the Angamaly Magistrate Court, that is hearing the case; on December 5, the court accepted the chargesheet. There are 12 accused, 355 witnesses, 760 documents and other material objects in the case.

On March 14, the trial was scheduled to begin, but Dileep demanded a delay in the trial claiming he hadn’t received all documents pertaining to the case.

Generally, the trial in a case begins within two months of filing the chargesheet. “However, in this case, it is delayed as actor Dileep approached the court with various pleas,” an investigating officer had told TNM in 2018.

‘Give me the video’

In January 2018, Dileep approached the Angamaly Magistrate Court to get access to all evidence in the case, including visuals of the assault of the actor inside the vehicle. Although the Angamaly Magistrate Court granted permission to access evidence, his plea to access the visuals was rejected on February 7, 2018.

He then approached the Kerala High Court with the same plea, claiming that accessing the video would help him prove his innocence in the case. The HC, too, turned down his petition on August 13, 2018, stating that his persistent demand for the video was a delaying tactic.

In December 2018, Dileep moved the Supreme Court, requesting that all evidence materials in the case, including the video recording of the assault itself, be handed over to him.

The Kerala government, however, filed an affidavit before the SC, stating that Dileep must not be given a copy of the video. The Supreme Court then asked Dileep’s lawyers to reply to the Kerala government’s petition, which hasn’t been done so far.

Demand for CBI probe

On June 13, 2018, Dileep went to the Kerala High Court demanding a CBI investigation into the case, claiming Kerala police was biased against him. The Kerala High Court denied his plea on December 19 the same year. While claiming he was a victim, Dileep tried multiple other ways to delay trial nonetheless.

“Now, it seems he is planning to move the Supreme Court, challenging the order,” a lawyer associated with the case tells TNM.

‘Lawyer indisposed’

In yet another delaying tactic, on January 22, 2019, Dileep submitted a plea before the Supreme Court, asking for an adjournment of one week in the case of his plea for a copy of the video of the sexual assault as his lawyer is indisposed.

The case was adjourned because of his plea for time to submit a rejoinder application to the government’s earlier submitted affidavit, and the fact that the government’s counsel was unavailable till February 12.

Other accused get bail

Dileep’s delaying tactics have meant others accused in the case are also getting out slowly.

Speaking to TNM, a senior lawyer associated with the case, explains, “All accused, except Dileep, are undertrial. But now slowly, accused have started getting bail. Recently, the HC granted one of the accused, Salim, bail. Martin has applied for bail.”

“When an accused files for bail and it gets rejected, he goes and files another petition and the cycle continues. There should be one order to discharge all petitions together,” he says.

Survivor’s concerns ignored?

Meanwhile, the survivor has made a plea for a trial by a woman judge and also to shift the case outside Ernakulam. However, Pulsar Suni, the main accused in the case and a history-sheeter, approached the High Court on February 8, 2019, stating that allowing this would violate his rights and deny him a fair trial. He also stated that accepting the survivor's demand would have an adverse effect on his and the lawyer's finances and health.

The survivor also filed a petition before the Session’s Court requesting for woman judicial officer, which was rejected. She approached the HC, which asked the registrar to find a court. But the Registrar himself released an order that the case will be heard in a POCSO court in Ernakulam on priority base, stating that there was a dearth of women judicial officers in Kerala.

“The Thrissur sessions court has a women judicial officer, however, she said the court would not be able to take up the case as it had other cases pending. This court, however, attends to bail applications on an arbitrary basis. The truth is that nobody wants to take up the case,” the senior lawyer says.

The incident

On February 17, 2017, the actor was on her way to Ernakulam from Thrissur when Sunil aka Pulsar Suni (Accused 1) sexually assaulted her. The actor’s vehicle was driven by her driver, Martin (Accused 2), who communicated the details, the time and location of the actor’s journey to the accused. 

Pulsar Suni, along with Accused 3 and 4, waited in a Tempo Traveller in front of a wedding auditorium in Angamaly, Ernakulam. When the survivor’s car reached the spot, the three accused followed her vehicle.

When both the vehicles reached near a tyre shop, Pulsar Suni intentionally hit her vehicle from behind, staging a fake accident scenario to make the survivor stop her vehicle. The accused got into the vehicle, wrongfully confined her, sexually assaulted her and recorded videos.

The crime continued for about two hours in the moving vehicle, until she was dropped at actor Lal’s house.

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