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Kerala actress assault case: Dileep gets interim relief, told to appear for interrogation

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Kochi, Jan 22: The Kerala High Court on Saturday granted interim protection to actor Dileep from arrest but directed him and other accused to appear before the investigating officers on January 23, 24 and 25 for interrogation.

Kerala actress assault case: Dileep gets interim relief, told to appear for interrogation

The court was hearing an anticipatory bail plea of Dileep in a case against him and five others for allegedly threatening the officers probing into the sexual assault of an actress in 2017. 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 January 23, 24 and 25.

The court also directed the public prosecutor to submit a report on the interrogation and material evidence on January 27, when the matter would be heard again. "The petitioners shall report before the investigating officers at 9 AM on January 23, 24 and 25. They shall be available for interrogation from 9 AM to 8 PM. It is made clear that the petitioners have to cooperate in the investigation.

Any attempt to interfere with the investigation will be viewed seriously by this court and lead to cancellation of this interim order. The petitioners shall not be arrested till 27 January," the court said after a two-hour-long hearing. The prosecution submitted before the court that granting bail would defeat the investigation as the accused were allegedly influential.

The court said the prosecution has handed over certain materials collected by the investigation agency in a sealed cover. The materials call for an indepth investigation. "None other than the conspirators need to be interrogated. Utterances merely signify the criminal intention and the conspiracy lurking behind it. Investigation has clearly revealed a conspiracy. If they are set free, there is no purpose in investigation," Director General of Prosecution, T A Shaji told the court.

The court said director Balachandra Kumar, who had recently made some startling revelations against the actor, was an acquaintance of Dileep and has submitted some relevant material to the crime branch which led to the registering of the case. But, the judge did not divulge the matters in the court by saying it was not appropriate to reveal those at this stage.

Meanwhile, Advocate B Raman Pillai, appearing for the actor, said even if the entire allegation raised by Kumar was taken into account, the same does not constitute an offence of either abatement or conspiracy under the IPC. The statements of Kumar were an improvement of his earlier statement/complaint, said the defence counsel.

Dileep's counsel contended that there was nothing on record for the Crime Branch to seek for a custodial interrogation of the accused in the case. But, the court said the information given by Kumar was supported by materials such as voice clips and video which would suggest that the allegations against the accused are true.

The court said the Crime Branch, after the interrogation on these days, can approach it for further action including arrest on January 27 after submitting the report. Besides Dileep, his younger brother P Sivakumar and brother-in-law T N Suraj have also moved the court seeking the same relief. On January 9, the Crime Branch registered the case on a complaint filed by an investigating officer based on a purported audio-clip of Dileep, which was telecast by a TV channel in which the actor was allegedly heard conspiring to attack the official.

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

This apprehension is borne out of the past conduct of the complainant officer who from the start has been trying to falsely implicate the actor in the sexual assault case, the petition alleged. The actress-victim 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 police arrested seven. Dileep was arrested subsequently and released on bail. PTI

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