The Kerala High Court on Thursday was informed that Malayalam actor-producer Vijay Babu had returned to India and had appeared before the Police for interrogation while considering his plea for anticipatory bail in the case where an actress accused him of sexually exploiting her.
Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas, therefore, extended the interim pre-arrest bail granted to the accused till next Tuesday while directing him to cooperate with the investigation and to refrain from tampering with the probe.
"The petitioner shall cooperate with the investigation and shall not under any circumstances, attempt to influence the witnesses, or contact, communicate or interact with the defacto complainant. The petitioner shall also not interact through or with any social or other media. The interim order not to arrest shall continue till next posting date."
The State submitted that the accused had appeared before the investigating officer on June 1 and that the investigating officer was granting him full opportunity to elicit a response to the complaint.
Since the prosecution sought time when the case was taken up, it was posted for 7 June 2022.
Two days ago, the Court had granted interim pre-arrest bail until today noting that merely because he was outside the country was not by itself a ground to not consider his bail application.
The Court had part-heard the matter last Friday, and the Bureau of Immigration had also filed an application seeking to be impleaded into the case. Earlier, the Judge had 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
Earlier this month, a lookout notice was issued against the actor who has been on the run since the accusations surfaced.
In his bail application moved through Advocate S. Rajeev, 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.