HC allows police to question Dileep for three days, no arrest till January 27

HC not convinced by prosecution stand on conspiracy charge against Dileep, bars actor's arrest
Actor Dileep

Kochi: The High Court of Kerala on Saturday allowed the police to question Malayalam actor Dileep and four others in connection with a case relating to the 2017 actress sexual assault.


The high court, in an interim order, said Dileep and the others accused of conspiring to eliminate the investigation officers in the 2017 case should appear before the police team for three days – Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – from 9 am to 8 pm. The high court issued the interim order while hearing an anticipatory bail plea filed by the actor and his co-accused. The high court has prohibited the police from arresting the accused till Thursday (January 27).

Justice Gopinath P directed the accused to fully cooperate with the investigation and directed them to be available for interrogation from 9 am to 8 pm on the three days.


Besides Dileep, his younger brother P Sivakumar (Anoop) and brother-in-law T N Suraj have moved the court seeking the same relief.


The court also directed the public prosecutor to submit a report on the interrogation and material evidence in a sealed cover on January 27, when the matter would be heard again.


The high court has warned the accused against any attempt to influence the investigators. The protection against their arrest will be revoked if they do so, the high court said.


Earlier in the day, the court made an oral observation that the charges raised against film actor Dileep and others that they conspired to finish off the police officers probing the actress attack case was difficult to stand the test of law merely on the basis of the statement given by film director Balachandrakumar.


While considering the anticipatory bail pleas of Dileep and others, the court said that the police have the power to investigate the conspiracy. But the court said that there seemed to be no need for the custody of the accused.


The court raised a doubt whether Balachandrakumar came up with the allegation only after Dileep backtracked from the movie offered to him. The court also said that it should be investigated whether Dileep had spoken out under the influence of liquor.


Prosecution's argument


But the prosecution made it clear that its main concern was that the probe into the case should not be scuttled by the accused using money and influence.


The court said that the conspiracy angle could definitely be investigated. But there are Supreme Court rulings and guidelines on the matter. Conspiracy and inducement are two different things. Mere statement that someone would be killed cannot be taken as an inducement.


Case fabricated: Dileep's lawyer


The defence lawyer argued that the conspiracy charge was foisted on Dileep and others without any proof. The conspiracy story was fabricated by the police. The interview of Balachandrakumar was a planned one.


The film director repeated what he was taught. There were contradictions in the statement of Balachandrakumar. The charges, which were not heard even once during the last four years, have suddenly come up now, the lawyer for Dileep argued.


The defence lawyer alleged that the new case was foisted on Dileep in retaliation for giving a complaint against the inquiry officer Baiju Paulose. It was part of an attempt to create public opinion against Dileep. The attempt was also to delay the ongoing trial in the case.


The defence lawyer wondered how come the police could find conspiracy in a mere curse made by Dileep while watching the old visuals of his arrest. What Dileep had said at his home was that even if somebody ran a truck on Baiju Paulose it would be interpreted as his deed.


Prosecution claims strong evidence


The prosecution, however, argued that there were strong pieces of evidence against Dileep in the conspiracy case.


Even though there were no elements of direct evidence, there were many corroborating pieces of evidence, it told the court.


The prosecution said that certain pieces of evidence would be handed over to the court. The prosecution urged the court to allow the custodial interrogation of Dileep. It also alleged that the accused were trying to influence the witnesses in the actress attack case.


Prosecution against trial court


Meanwhile, the prosecution complained against the trial court, saying that the prosecution was not allowed to give a proper reply in the trial court. Moreover, the details of the secret trial are getting leaked to the media.


So, the prosecution sought that the trial court proceedings should be held under the supervision of the High Court.


Special sitting


The case was heard today, Jan 22, by holding a special sitting in the High Court. By avoiding online sitting, Justice P Gopinath was hearing the arguments at the open court hall.


The Crime Branch had earlier registered a case against six accused, including Dileep, brother Anoop, brother-in-law Sooraj, driver Appu, accomplice Baiju of Chengamanad and an unknown "VIP" on charges of pronouncing death threat against certain police officials and for engaging in conspiracy to achieve this end.


The accused were booked under various provisions of the IPC, including Sections 116 (abetment), 118 (concealing design to commit offence), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 34 (criminal act done by several people).


The police registered case against them after film director Balachandrakumar gave a statement that he was witness to the conspiracy hatched by the accused to finish off inquiry officers, including Deputy Superintendents of Police Baiju Paulose and KS Sudarshan, who were part of the team which arrested Dileep.


Balachandrakumar had handed over audio tapes to the police that contained the conversation of Dileep, his brother Anoop and many others involved in the case.


Meanwhile, the prosecution moved an appeal in the High Court, seeking postponement of the examination of additional witnesses in the case till the reinvestigation is over.


The trial court decided to examine the prosecution witnesses Nilisha, Kannadasan, D Suresh and Usha on January 22 and BSNL nodal officer Sathyamoorthy on January 25.


The High Court allowed the examination of the additional witnesses in the case in a plea filed by the prosecution last week.


Then the prosecution had filed a petition in the trial court, seeking postponement of the examination of these additional witnesses for another week since they were staying in Tamil Nadu and they needed more time to come to Kerala.


The trial court rejected the plea, saying that the High Court's instruction was to finish the examination of additional witnesses in 10 days. Subsequently, the prosecution moved the High Court.


The actress who has worked in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films was abducted and allegedly molested in her car for two hours by some of the accused, who had forced their way into the vehicle on the night of February 17, 2017 and later escaped in a busy area. The entire act was filmed by some of the accused to blackmail the actress.


There are 10 accused in the case and initially, police arrested seven people. Dileep was arrested subsequently and released on bail later.

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