POCSO case: Kerala HC denies anticipatory bail to No 18 hotel owner

Police hostile, POCSO case fake: No. 18 Hotel owner claims before court
Roy Vayalat, the owner of 'No. 18' Hotel in Fort Kochi.

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday declined anticipatory bail to the owner of city-based Hotel 18 and another in a POCSO case against them.

Justice Gopinath P denied any relief to No 18 hotel owner Roy J Vayalat and his friend Syju M Thankachan, saying that they are not entitled to anticipatory bail in view of the nature of allegations against them.

The court also said that there appears to be some material that would indicate that custodial interrogation of the accused, especially Vayalat and Thankachan, would be necessary for a proper investigation into the crime.

The court, however, granted anticipatory bail to co-accused Anjali Vadakkepurakkal solely for the reason that she is a woman and aged 24 years.

While granting her the relief, the court noted that the fact she requested the minor victim to reset her mother's mobile phone to erase any images or videos of the incident was "troubling".

The court granted her anticipatory bail subject to her executing a bond for a sum of Rs one lakh with two solvent sureties each of the same amount.

The other conditions imposed on her by the court were that she shall report before the investigating officer as and when called upon, she shall not attempt to contact the minor victim or her mother, she shall not interfere with the probe or intimidate/ influence witnesses and she shall surrender her passport.

The three accused had alleged that the complaint of molestation and sexual assault against them by the minor's mother was "a deliberate attempt at blackmail".

The state, represented by Additional Director General of Prosecution Gracious Kuriakose and senior public prosecutor C K Suresh, had contended that the investigation conducted so far revealed that the so-called business meeting for which Vadakkepurakkal had come to Kochi and brought along the minor victim, her mother and two other women was nothing but a sham.

The victim's mother too had told the court that she, her daughter and the two other women were taken to Kochi on the false pretext of a business meeting and the intention was to take them to the two accused men.

After hearing all sides, the court agreed with the stand of the prosecution and the victim's mother and said, "Prima facie, this indicates that the de facto complainant (mother), her minor daughter and two other women were brought to Cochin on a false pretext".

According to the complainant mother, who was an employee of Vadakkepurakkal, the latter had invited her and her daughter to No 18 hotel under the guise of a meeting and there Vayalat had allegedly molested the minor.

After the mother and daughter left the hotel, Vadakkepurakkal allegedly circulated photographs of the minor on social media and to others, the complaint has claimed.

Hotel 18, Vayalat and Thankachan recently came in the news in connection with the deaths of three people, including two models, in a car accident which allegedly resulted as the latter was chasing them in his four-wheeler.

Models Ancy Kabeer (25) and Anjana Shajan (24) had died in the fatal crash on November 1 last year. A third passenger, in the car, succumbed to his injuries a few days later.

According to the prosecution in that case, Thankachan had allegedly stalked the models from a bar to Hotel 18 and when they left that place to avoid him, he chased after them.

In that matter, the high court had granted bail to Thankachan.

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