The Kerala High Court, on Tuesday, granted interim pre-arrest bail to Malayalam actor-filmmaker Vijay Babu, who has been accused of sexual assault by a female actor. The interim relief will be applicable until the next hearing on Thursday.
Justice Bechu Kiran Thomas, who heard the case, granted the interim bail after it was brought to his knowledge that Babu was willing to present himself before the jurisdiction of the court.
It is to be noted that Babu was originally scheduled to fly down to Kerala from Dubai on Monday, but he cancelled his trip on apprehension of being arrested at the airport. He rescheduled his return for Wednesday, by which time he expected a verdict in his pre-arrest bail plea. This verdict has now been given in his favour.
Soon after the news about the sexual assault allegation broke out, Babu went live on Facebook and spoke about the matter. Violating the law, he went on to reveal the survivor’s identity by openly naming her, and a second FIR was filed against him for this.
Further, on April 24, Babu fled to Dubai from Bengaluru. He later moved the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the case before his return from Dubai.
The survivor had stated in her complaint that Babu had “gained her trust by being friendly and giving her professional advice” when she had just started out in the Malayalam film industry. She also alleged that Babu sexually exploited her under the pretence of being a “saviour” on professional and personal terms.
However, Babu claimed in his bail application that he had featured in a commercial for Kerala police alongside the female actor, and that she was constantly trying to communicate with him, asking him about opportunities in films, despite him claiming that he was not responsible for casting. He also alleged that the female actor sent him messages during odd hours and stated that he was ready to submit these during the investigation.
Stating that the female actor is trying to “blackmail” him with a false case, Babu’s counsel contended that he apprehended an arrest by the police guided by media reports. Babu also claimed that all the details of the case were available on social media and print media even before the FIS or FIR were uploaded, which proved that an “unholy nexus” existed between the police and the media.
He thus sought protection from arrest under section 438 of the CrPC (direction for granting of bail to person apprehending arrest).
The court granted his petition, noting that, “Apprehending arrest in a non-bailable arrest is sufficient justification to move an anticipatory bail application and when the arrest is imminent, the statute provides even the grant of an interim order.”