In a rare and unprecedented development in the Kerala actor abduction and sexual assault case, the survivor has moved the Kerala High Court, seeking to transfer the trial proceedings out of the Additional Sessions (CBI special No III) Court in Ernakulam. The survivor actor alleged that the court hearing the case is ‘biased’ and has ‘hostile attitude’.
The case pertains to the abduction and sexual assault of a leading female actor of Kerala in February 2017. Actor Dileep, who is the eighth accused in the case, is alleged to have masterminded the crime.
In the petition to the High Court, the survivor has alleged that the court’s moves during the proceedings had become “hostile” to her. In a serious allegation, the petition states that the court sat as a ‘mute spectator’ when the survivor actor was ‘harassed’ by Dileep’s advocate during the defence counsel’s examination.
Notably, the trial proceedings of the court started in the court of Justice Honey M Varghese on the request of the survivor actor. She wanted the case to be heard by a woman judge.
The Survivor's Concerns
The plea stated that the court failed to restrict the number of lawyers who were present inside the courtroom during the examination of the survivor.
The petition further says the court also did not record ‘certain portions’ of the testimony given by the survivor actor and did not give any lawful justification for the same. She has alleged that this was ‘deliberate.’ The court allegedly failed to record some portions of her testimony despite the prosecution specifically requesting the court to record all statements.
In another serious allegation, the plea states that the court handed over the report of the controversial visuals of the assault, from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) to Dileep’s counsel without informing the prosecution counsel, that too on a day when there was no trial proceedings. Accused Dileep had sent the visuals to CFSL in Chandigarh to verify its ‘authenticity’ in January this year.
The plea filed by the survivor in HC also added that the trial court even read out an anonymous letter addressed to the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court. She also adds in the plea that the trial court had allegedly made derogatory statements and read out an anonymous letter in the presence of witnesses, defense counsel and other prosecution team.
The plea also says that another woman actor, a witness in the case, was harassed by the court during examination, citing one of her Facebook posts.
Dileep's Bail Cancellation
TNM has learnt that the prosecution had moved a petition in September asking for Dileep's bail to be cancelled, and in that, it was alleged that he has tried to influence four witnesses. The court has not taken up the petition filed by the Prosecution to cancel Dileep’s bail plea. That petition has made some serious allegations, including that there was an effort by a Thrissur-based lawyer to influence a prime witness. The lawyer taking away this witness in a car was captured on the CCTV camera placed near the court hall, says the petition. The petition says 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 survivor and Kerala government's petition asking for a change in court follows a similar one filed last week by the Special Public Prosecutor. The SPP in this case, A Suresan, had moved the CBI special court asking it to stop the trial proceedings. In the plea, the Prosecutor had alleged that the court had passed ‘derogatory remarks’ against him. But the court dismissed the petition. The state government has mentioned this in its present plea to the High Court.
Even as Dileep was released on bail in 2017 after being jailed for 85 days, he has been constantly resorting to delay tactics to slow down the trial proceedings. He had even moved the Supreme Court, demanding access to the controversial visuals of the assault, and the apex court stayed the case for six months.
However, the Supreme Court directed that the trial, which finally started in November 2019, should be completed within six months. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the court has sought three more months to complete the trial.
(This piece was originally published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission. Read the original story here.)