Justice Kauser Edappagath of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday recused from hearing a petition moved by the Crime Branch 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.
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