The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the trial against actor Dileep in the Malayalam actress assault case. The order was issued after the Kerala government asked for more time to present its argument that the memory card containing video footage of the alleged assault is an evidence in the case and not a document which can be handed over to the accused.
On April 10, the case was about to begin in a special CBI court in Ernakulam when Dileep made a plea to the Supreme Court seeking a copy of the video. His petition was previously rejected by the Angamaly Magistrate court and later by the Kerala High Court which also asked Dileep not to delay proceedings.
However, Dileep’s counsel, Mukul Rohatgi, argued in the SC that the video had been doctored to frame Dileep and he had the right to access it to prove his innocence.
On Thursday, the SC asked the Kerala government to decide if the video was a document under the law allowing Dileep to access it. According to various reports, the SC asked government to give its decision in writing on Friday, but the government said it wanted more time. “The government maintains that the memory card is material evidence and we wanted more time to present our case. This is why the trial has been stayed,” Kerala Public Prosecutor Prakash told TNM.
The decision in the Supreme Court was taken on Friday by a bench headed by Justices AM Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi, who said that the case will now be heard in the third week of July after summer vacation. The case also cannot proceed in the special CBI court in Ernakulam until the SC verdict.
The trial has dragged on even though the Kerala High Court ordered in March 2018 that it must be completed in six months. Dileep is the 8th accused in the case and has been charged for being a co-conspirator in the assault which occurred in February 2017, when an actress was molested in a moving vehicle and this was recorded on camera. Dileep was arrested by the police in July 2017, and spent 85 days in custody before being let out on bail in October.
Image Courtsey: India Today