Actor assault case: Kerala High Court allows 10 more days to examine witnesses


Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday allowed 10 more days for the prosecution to examine witnesses in the 2017 actor assault case in which popular Malayalam actor Dileep is an accused.

A single bench of the high court allowed the additional time as requested by the prosecution. On January 17, the high court had granted the prosecution time to examine five additional witnesses in 10 days. The deadline will end on January 27 (Thursday). However, the prosecution moved the high court seeking more time citing that the examination could not be completed within the deadline since one of the witnesses has been out of state and another undergoing treatment for COVID-19.

The HC allowed the plea even as the defence counsel opposed it.

The high court order came on a day when the time allowed for the police to question Dileep and a few others in a fresh case of conspiracy to kill the officers who investigated the 2017 case and arrested the actor then.

A series of fresh developments relating to the incident, which shocked the state five years ago, have been taking place of late even as the deadline to finish the trial is fast approaching. The trial is supposed to end on February 15.

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea by the state government seeking six more months to complete the trial. The apex court has left it to the discretion of the trial court to take a decision on the deadline.

The original case pertains to the abduction and sexual assault of a popular south Indian actor in a moving car near Kochi in February 2017. Dileep, a former friend and colleague of the survivor, is accused of plotting the crime in an act of revenge. Dileep, the eighth accused, was arrested and remanded for 80 days in 2017 before being granted bail.

The case took a new turn last month when filmmaker Balachandrakumar, a former friend of Dileep, surfaced before media with some startling revelations. He said he was witness to Dileep and his close associates watching the visuals of the sexual assault and planning to harm the police officers who arrested him. The revelations led to the Crime Branch registering a fresh case against Dileep and a few others, including his brother Anoop and brother-in-law Suraj.

The actor, fearing arrest, has moved an anticipatory bail plea and the high court is scheduled to hear it again on Thursday. Recently in an interim order, the high court allowed the police to question the accused for three days. The prosecution has been asked to submit a report of the interrogation before the high court on Thursday.

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