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'Might frustrate the trial': Kerala HC declines to cancel actor Dileep's bail in 2017 actress assault case

The prosecution had also sought quashing of the observations made by the lower court while declining to cancel the bail of the actor.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 08:41 IST

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday declined to cancel the bail of actor Dileep in the 2017 actress assault case, saying that doing so in the present juncture "may frustrate the trial" which is about to be completed.

The order by Justice Sophy Thomas came on the plea by the prosecution seeking to cancel the actor's bail on various grounds, including that he allegedly destroyed evidence in the case, influenced witnesses and conspired to do away with the investigating officers.

The High Court said that it was of the view that if Dileep's bail was cancelled now "it may lead to further litigations and complications which may frustrate the trial which is about to be completed and may drag the proceedings indefinitely".

It further said that the crime was of the year 2017 and "after a long drawn trial, it is nearing completion". "So this court is of the view that let the trial be completed and the case be disposed of at the earliest."

"The crimes, if any, registered for destroying evidence, influencing or threatening witnesses or for the conspiracy to do away with the investigating officers etc. may take its course till it is logically concluded in accordance with law," Justice Thomas said and disposed of the plea moved by the prosecution.

The prosecution had also sought quashing of the observations made by the lower court while declining to cancel the bail of the actor.

The prosecution, represented by Director General of Prosecution (DGP) T A Shaji and additional public prosecutor P Narayanan, had expressed apprehensions that the lower court observations might have an adverse impact on the appreciation of evidence by the court conducting the trial.

The DGP had urged the High Court to clarify that the lower court's observations were only for the purpose of disposing of the plea to cancel the actor's bail and cannot have any adverse influence on the appreciation of evidence in the case.

The High Court noted that the lower court's observations may tend to appear as if the judge "has made up her mind as to the destruction of evidence and influencing the witnesses, etc."

Therefore, the High Court clarified that the findings and observations by the lower court were only for the purpose of disposing of the prosecution plea to cancel Dileep's bail and 'it shall not affect the appreciation of evidence' in the main case.

"The trial judge has to appreciate the available facts and evidence in the case independently and untrammeled by any of the observations and findings in the lower court order," Justice Thomas said in her order.

The lower court had observed, while declining to cancel Dileep's bail, that it cannot conclude that he had deleted evidence in connection with the case for the simple reason that the forensic lab's report contains the fact that some conversations were deleted.

It had also observed that it cannot hold that the actor caused disappearance of evidence simply for the reason that the mobile phone was subjected to examination in a private lab.

The actress-victim, who has worked in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films, was abducted and allegedly molested in her car for two hours by some persons who had forced their way into the vehicle on the night of February 17, 2017 and later escaped in a busy area.

The entire act was filmed by those persons to blackmail the actress.

There are 10 accused in the 2017 case, including actor Dileep, and police have arrested seven. Dileep was arrested subsequently and released on bail.

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(Published 28 February 2024, 08:41 IST)

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