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[Actor Assault Case] 'This Court Is Not Powerless': Kerala High Court In Survivor's Plea Suspecting Foul Play In Ongoing Investigation

Hannah M Varghese
25 May 2022 6:42 AM GMT
Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed that the accused be added as parties in the plea moved by the survivor in the 2017 actor sexual assault case where she raised serious allegations against the State and the trial court judge, suspecting foul play in the ongoing investigation in the case.

Justice Ziyad Rahman orally remarked that the Court was not powerless when the petitioner's counsel sought interim relief in her plea.

"I want them to get instructions. This court is not powerless, but let's wait."

The Court repeated this statement towards the end of the hearing, asserting that it has the right to pass orders in the plea, but it chose to let the other side file a statement first. In the meantime, the petitioner has been asked to add the accused to the party array.

"Are they not necessary parties? It is their trial that is being prolonged. Their rights are affected. Make them parties in the matter."

DGP TA Shaji submitted that the State has been providing endless support to the survivor since the inception of the trial and that it was unfortunate for the survivor to suspect foul play at this stage. The DGP also submitted that when he was asked to appoint a Special Prosecutor of intelligence and calibre by the Chief Minister, he asked the survivor to pick any person of her choice.

Nevertheless, the survivor had to be reminded of the same for quite some time before she recommended a Prosecutor of her choice. Immediately after receiving this suggestion, he argued that he followed the de procedure and checked the credentials of the said Prosecutor to be appointed in the case.

"It is everyone's case that the victim should be given justice. The victim has been taken into confidence since the very beginning of this case."

However, he expressed great displeasure at the narrative on the public domain being to the contrary and asked them to withdraw the statement made against the State. He said, "we merely ask that this may not be made political, that is all."

The DGP also suggested that the Court take a report from the trial court on the petition pending before it seeking to examine the possible leak of a memory card of the visuals.

The matter will be taken up this Friday by which time the State has been asked to file a statement.

Yesterday, the matter was listed before Justice Kauser Edappagath, but the Judge recused from hearing the matter. The case was accordingly listed before Justice Rahmantoday.

The petition was filed through Advocate T.B. Mini alleging that the Government which supported the cause of the petitioner at the initial stages and allowed a fair investigation in the case, by police officers of the high integrity and took credit for the investigation politically has backtracked from its constitutional legal commitment to conducting a free, fair and complete investigation in the case.

The survivor has a bonafide apprehension that the 8th accused in the case, actor Dileep who is highly influential directly and through his sources has unlawfully influenced some of the politicians in the ruling front and is attempting to interfere with the further investigation in the case and prematurely close the same.

The plea has also questioned the integrity of the trial court judge saying that "the act of the presiding officer is highly suspicious." She argued that the tampering with the memory card may help the accused take undue advantage in the further proceedings.

Being the survivor, she asserted that she has the fundamental right to get a fair trial and justice as well as to know who has illegally accessed the memory card and tampered with or transmitted it as it is a violation of her fundamental right to privacy. It is the duty of the court to ascertain how the memory card was tampered with while in the custody of the court and who are the culprits.

"The conduct of the presiding officer in obstructing the investigation in this matter clearly shows that she wants to illegally help the culprits. Her (trial court judge) conducts in this regard if condoned or tolerated will be a disgrace to the judicial system which assures equal protection under the law," reads the plea.

Even though the prosecution had approached this court with a petition to extend the time limit fixed by this Court, it was reliably learned that the prosecution, as well as the investigation agency, are now threatened by political higher-ups to end the investigation halfway and file an additional report in a half-cooked manner. This clearly establishes the illegal nexus between the accused and the ruling front, she submits.

It has been further submitted that against all ethics and legal norms, Dileep's lawyers interfered with the administration of justice by tampering with evidence and illegally influencing the material witnesses and evidence in this regard has already come into the public domain.

She argued that though the investigating agency has made all its attempts to investigate the role of the said Advocates, the same was not successful as the senior counsel and his associates have substantial influence with the ruling Government and it is learnt that some assurances were secured by those advocates from the political authorities that the further investigation will not reach them.

So there is also an agenda for the political and administrative higher-ups that no investigation is done in respect of eh illegal access, tampering and transmission of the contents of the memory card are conducted due to reasons best known to them.

It was submitted that it is highly necessary in such circumstances for the majesty of law and justice to interfere in the matter to uphold the rule of law in this country and to protect the constitutional and legal right of the survivor in a heinous crime never heard n the history of criminal jurisprudence in our country.

Case Title: X v. State of Kerala & Ors.

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