The Kerala High Court on Thursday continued hearing the anticipatory bail plea moved by Malayalam actor-producer Vijay Babu in the case where an actress accused him of sexually exploiting her.
Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas asked the prosecution to produce the case diary in the matter while posting it tomorrow to conclude the arguments of the actor. The prosecution concluded its arguments today.
The Court has been hearing the case at length for the last two days, analysing the WhatsApp and Instagram messages between the actor and the complainant in detail to ascertain the relationship between the duo. While there are submissions suspecting the authenticity of the messages produced before the Court, the accused appearing through Advocate S. Rajeev has asserted that no tampering has been done in the same.
Similarly, while the prosecution asserts that it was a case of sexual assault, the actor has claimed that it was a consensual act. The actor has also added that this case was a move orchestrated by the complainant to avenge his refusal of her request to grant more movie roles. Advocate R Rajesh appearing for the complainant also opposed the anticipatory bail plea.
During the proceedings, the Judge also made oral observations on the evolving attitude among men toward crimes against women.
"Crimes against women are certainly increasing. We have always been looking at these cases with a patriarchal eye, as a patriarchal society. But it is changing and it is time to change also. Even men's attitude is changing."
The Court added that more women were now coming out and speaking openly about sex now:
"Women are no longer very worried about speaking in public about their sexual escapades. Every other day we find women saying that. They have become empowered. They are strong about such things."
Last week, the actor had secured interim pre-arrest bail noting that merely because he was outside the country was not by itself a ground to not consider his bail application. This was extended by the Judge upon being informed that Vijay Babu had returned to India and had appeared before the Police for interrogation. The actor was, however, directed to cooperate with the investigation and to refrain from tampering with the probe.
The Court had part-heard the matter earlier, and the Bureau of Immigration had also filed an application seeking to be impleaded into the case. The Judge had also urged the prosecution to give some time to the actor to return to India and submit himself before the Court and that this was the only reasonable way to get justice for the victim in the case. It had also orally directed the actor to make himself available to the jurisdiction of the court.
As per the de facto complainant, the actor 'gained her trust by being friendly and advising her' when she was a newcomer in the industry. She added that he sexually exploited her under the guise of being a 'saviour' to her when it came to personal and professional issues.
A complaint was thereby registered against him with the Ernakulam police. Meanwhile, the actor hosted a Facebook Live and denied all allegations raised against him. However, during this live streaming, he revealed the survivor's name which led to further backlash. A separate case has been registered under IPC Section 228A (disclosure of the identity of the victim in certain offences) against the actor for revealing her identity on a public platform
In his bail application, he has submitted that the de facto complainant is merely trying to blackmail him by filing this false case. He added that while the survivor may be free to raise allegations against anyone, the statutory authorities are duty-bound to ascertain the truthfulness of the allegation before tarnishing or defaming an individual based on a complaint which could not be substantiated.
The actor has submitted that he has strong apprehension of arrest since the police officers are allegedly guided by the media reports. He alleges that the officers want to arrest him due to pressure from the media and to create news for the media.
Case Title: Vijay Babu v. State of Kerala & Anr.