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Actor Assault Case: Kerala High Court Asks Crime Branch To Explain Significance Of Hash Value Change In Memory Card

Hannah M Varghese
15 Jun 2022 11:26 AM GMT
Actor Assault Case: Kerala High Court Asks Crime Branch To Explain Significance Of Hash Value Change In Memory Card

The Kerala High Court asked the Crime Branch to explain the significance of a change in the hash value of the memory card in its petition challenging the order of the Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Court which rejected its petition to forward the memory card allegedly containing the visuals of the crime in the 2017 actor sexual assault case for forensic examination.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas on Wednesday urged the prosecution to convince him of the importance of the same in the case and the ongoing investigation, before it can consider the matter.

"I need a clear picture of the issue, what is the significance of the hash value change? What is the purpose and how does it affect the case? A further investigation does not entitle you to conduct a roving enquiry."

The Single Judge also asked the prosecution if it wasn't better if the accused is also heard in the matter and if this would benefit the accused in any manner. The Court opined that it could not decide the matter unless it hears both parties and repeated that it cannot make any decision after hearing only one side of the case.

Meanwhile, the Court informed Advocate Philip T Varghese appearing for actor Dileep to get impleaded in the case if he wanted to make submissions in the matter.

The matter has been posted to Monday along with the survivor's plea alleging foul play in the ongoing investigation.

In 2017, a popular actress was abducted and raped in a moving vehicle pursuant to a conspiracy, allegedly schemed by Dileep. Being the 8th accused in the case, he is now undergoing trial before the CBI Special Judge.

The said memory card is a crucial piece of evidence in the ongoing trial in the 2017 case and has been marked as an exhibit before the trial court. It was initially forwarded to a forensic laboratory for examination. Later on, it was forwarded to another laboratory to make a cloned copy upon Dileep's request, as permitted by the Supreme Court.

However, during the examination of the memory card, the FSL experts noticed a change in the hash value of the card, which indicates unauthorised access. Though this change in the hash value was reported to the trial court on January 29, 2020, it was not disclosed to the prosecution till February 2022.

Immediately, upon coming to know about the change in the hash value, the prosecution requested another forensic examination of the card as part of further investigation in the case to avoid the likelihood of the accused taking undue advantage of the same. Nevertheless, the trial court dismissed this plea citing that the memory card was kept in the safe custody of the court since its production.

The prosecution argued that the court's refusal of another forensic examination is illegal and amounts to interference in the investigation which is in the sole realm of the investigating agency. It also pointed out that the reason cited by the trial court to refuse its request for forensic examination was unsustainable in law.

Case Title: State of Kerala v. XXX

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