Actress sexual assault case: Plea for change of court junked
Kochi, Nov 21: The Kerala High Court on Friday declined to transfer the trial in the case of sexual assault of an actress in which popular Malayalam actor Dileep is among the accused, from the present court.
It rejected petitions filed by the actress who was allegedly sexually assaulted here in 2017 and the state government seeking to transfer trial.
Dismissing the pleas, the court said unless the court and the prosecutor work in sync it results in the guilty escaping the clutches of law and innocent being punished.
Justice V G Arun said he was confident that in the endeavour to seek truth and render justice, the special prosecutor and defence lawyer shall work in tandem.
The high court, which had deferred the trial in the case when the pleas came up early this month, directed the trial court (CBI special court Judge-III Ernakulam) to resume the in-camera trial on Monday.
The judge also rejected the prayer sought by the state and counsel for the actress for a stay of the judgment for a period of one week to file an appeal before the Supreme Court, observing that he has become 'functus officio' after the pronouncement of the judgment.
'Functus officio' roughly means having performed his office, once an arbitrator renders a decision regarding the issues submitted he lacks any power to reexamine that decision.
The apex court has directed the trial court to dispose of the case on or before February 4, 2021.
In her plea, the actress alleged she was aggrieved by the biased and hostile attitude of the trial court and that it sat like a mute spectator when she was being examined and harassed by the counsel for Dileep.
She complained that it failed to restrict the number of lawyers for the accused present inside the court hall when she was being examined and failed to uphold the spirit of in-camera trial.
Endorsing the allegations levelled by the actress, the state government also sought transfer of the case to another court.
The state government, in its October 27 memorandum seeking transfer of the trial, submitted it was aggrieved by the "biased, hostile and partisan" conduct of the trial court.
The government noted that the Supreme Court and the high court had earlier intervened and issued orders with respect to the trial which pointed to the importance of the case.
Counsel for the state government had submitted that the trial court Judge and the prosecutor were at loggerheads and also said transfer will not affect the deadline set by the top court to complete the case.
The actress, who has worked in Tamil and Telugu films, was abducted and allegedly molested inside her car for two hours by 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 the accused to blackmail the actress.
There are ten accused in the case and initially, police arrested seven people.
Dileep was arrested subsequently and let out on bail later.
In April this year, the high court had allowed a petition by the actress seeking appointment of a woman judge for conducting the trial and ordered CBI special court Judge- III Ernakulam to complete the in-cameral trial expeditiously.