The Kerala High Court on Friday granted the prosecution an extension till July 15 to conclude the further investigation in the 2017 sexual assault case.
Justice Kauser Edappagath thereby allowed the plea moved by the Crime Branch.
"Considering the fact that the analysis of voluminous evidence collected during further investigation is yet to be completed, reports from FSL regarding the examination of voice samples and handwriting are yet to be received, some more witnesses have to be questioned, and also taking into account the entire facts and circumstances of the case, I am of the view that the prayer for extension of time has to be favourably considered to meet the ends of justice. However, further investigation cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely."
The prosecution had approached the Court on April 8 seeking an extension to wind up the probe claiming that certain voice clips are highly necessary for proper adjudication of the case to satisfy the Court of the necessity to extend the time frame to complete the further investigation.
The Court had granted one more month's time after noting that the pendrive submitted by the prosecution contained two folders containing three voice clips each which were apparently collected by the investigating officers during the course of further investigation and which required careful analysis.
In 2017, a popular actress was abducted and raped in a moving vehicle pursuant to a conspiracy, allegedly plotted by Dileep. Being the 8th accused in the case, he is now undergoing trial before the CBI Special Judge.
The case made headlines once again in 2022 when film director Balachandrakumar made shocking disclosures against the actor bringing out new allegations against him. Once these allegations came to light, the prosecution sought more time from the court to wind up its probe citing that a further investigation was necessary in light of the new disclosures.
In the petition filed before the High Court, he had alleged that furtherance of this 'sham investigation' infringes the right of a fair trial and added that it is an abuse of the process of law.
Dileep had accused the case to be a 'deliberate and calculated attempt' of the prosecution to sabotage the trial before the Special CBI Court. He has further pointed out that the impugned report containing new information was submitted by the Investigating Officer on 29th December 2021, the exact date when the Officer was scheduled to be examined as the last witness for the prosecution at the trial court.
However, dismissing the plea, the Court ruled that Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not restrict the investigating agency from conducting a further probe into a crime when it is notified of new information. The Single Judge added that Dileep had failed to establish any grounds to quash the further investigation.
Holding so, the Single Judge permitted the investigating agency to carry on with the further investigation. Nevertheless, it was directed that such investigation shall be completed and the further report be filed no later than April 15. The prosecution has been seeking more time to conclude the probe citing the large chunk of evidence that had to be subjected to forensic examination.
Case Title: State of Kerala & Anr. v. P. Gopalakrishnan alias Dileep
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 256