Actress assault case: Huge setback for govt as SC refuses to extend trial

While the Supreme Court clarified that only the trial judge has the discretion to ask for an extension, earlier prosecutors in the case have accused the trial judge of being biased towards accused actor Dileep  

Malayalam actor Dileep is the eighth accused in the abduction and sexual assault of an actress

The Supreme Court on Monday turned down the prosecution’s request to extend the time of trial to six months into the actress abduction and sexual assault case in which Malayalam actor Dileep is an accused.

A bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar said only the trial judge can apply for an extension of the trial.

In a previous order, the division bench of the Supreme Court has made it clear that the trial judge can make a request if that court wants to extend the time of the trial, but the extension cannot be granted at the request of the state. According to an existing order of the Supreme Court, the trial needs to be completed by February 2022. In effect, the Supreme Court has acknowledged actor Dileep’s argument in the reply affidavit filed by his lawyer opposing the state’s demand for the extension of the trial.

Also read: Crime Branch interrogates Dileep & others; may have solid evidence on plot to kill cop


Dileep, the eighth accused in the actor abduction-assault case, said in his affidavit that the authority to extend the time of the trial rests only with the trial court which has already extended the same four times before.

Dileep in his affidavit said that the prosecution’s appeal to further the investigations, based on the statement of filmmaker Balachandra Kumar, who claimed that he had seen the actor watching the video of the sexual assault on the actress, is only a pretext to extend the trial. He also alleged that the prosecution was buying time for the transfer of the trial court judge against whom the prosecutors raised the allegation of bias in favour of Dileep.

“The clandestine motive of avoiding the Presiding Officer from passing the judgment in the case also appears to be one among the mischievous motive that has resulted in the filing of this petition,” states Dileep’s counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court.

The trial in the case was almost coming to a closure when sudden twists and turns changed its course. Of the 203 witnesses, the examination of all except one was completed. The only remaining prosecution witness to be examined was Biju Poulose, the investigating officer of the actress abduction-assault case. It was at this juncture that Balachandra Kumar, who claimed to have worked closely with Dileep, made a complaint to the chief minister. In his complaint, Kumar said that he was a witness to incidents indicating Dileep’s involvement in the conspiracy behind the actress abduction-assault case and that he required police protection as his life was in danger.

Also read: Kerala actor Dileep gets interim protection from arrest in sex assault case

Kumar also appeared on TV channels and has released audio clips of Dileep and others allegedly talking about the abduction and assault and watching the video of the assault which was allegedly shot by accused Pulsar Suni and others. Kumar also alleged that Dileep and his men were conspiring to kill the investigating officers in the case and leaked the audio of the alleged conversations.

Based on his statement, the Crime Branch lodged a fresh FIR against six people including Dileep for conspiring to kill investigating officers in the case. Dileep had moved the court seeking anticipatory bail. The Kerala High Court has deferred the anticipatory bail hearing till February 3, allowing investigating officers to interrogate the actor in the meantime.  The interrogation that began at 9 am on January 23 stretched till 8 pm and started again at the same time on Monday (January 24).

The Supreme Court’s act of turning down the request for extending the time of the trial is a huge setback for the state government. It puts tremendous pressure on the police who have been investigating two cases on a parallel track. In the light of the revelations made by filmmaker Kumar, the cops have to furnish corroborating evidence to prove his claims. At the same time, the Crime Branch has to bring out tangible evidence to prove that Dileep has conspired to harm the investigating officers within two days.

Also read: Dileep can impede probe, shouldn’t be given anticipatory bail: Crime Branch

The police will have to submit the report of the interrogation in the High Court on Thursday (January 27), the day the Kerala High Court will hear the actor’s anticipatory bail plea. The police will have to present strong leads to convince the court why the anticipatory bail should not be granted to Dileep and five other accused in this case (including Dileep’s brother and sister’s husband). Besides, after the resignation of the two prosecutors, there is a deadlock as far as the trial is concerned. The government is yet to appoint a new prosecutor, but an assistant prosecutor is managing the trial procedure now. The prosecutors quit their positions after complaining that the trial court judge was very unfriendly towards the prosecution and was biased in favour of Dileep. If the trial judge does not wish to extend the time, the trial has to be completed February 16 which puts huge pressure on the prosecution.