The Kerala High Court, on Saturday, ordered actor Dileep and the five others accused of conspiring to kill the officers who investigated the 2017 female actor abduction and assault case, to surrender their mobile phones by Monday.
The order requires all six mobile phones to be handed over to the court registry in a sealed box by 10.15 am on Monday.
The ruling from Justice Gopinath P came after the prosecution approached the court on Friday and said Dileep and his associates were attempting to destroy critical evidence, including the mobile phones.
Earlier, after completing the three-day interrogation of the accused as per the court’s direction, the crime branch had asked Dileep to submit his mobile phone. However, he refused to do so citing lack of trust. The prosecution’s sub petition was presented in the court after this incident.
It may be noted that the crime branch had filed the new FIR against Dileep and his associates based on audio clips of phone conversations that were released by filmmaker Balachandra Kumar. In these clips, the accused are allegedly heard conspiring to kill the investigation officers in the female actor assault case.
While the court opined on Friday that the accused should hand over the phones to the investigating officials, the judge later decided to hold a hearing on Saturday so that counsels for the accused could file their counter.
During Saturday’s hearing, Director-General of Prosecution TA Shaji stated that by refusing to hand over their phones, the accused have demonstrated that they will not cooperate with the investigation. He added that after Kumar made his disclosures regarding the murder conspiracy, all the accused changed their phones immediately.
On the other hand, Dileep’s counsel, B Raman Pillai, argued that the prosecution was merely attempting to protract the trial in the 2017 abduction and assault case and somehow find a way to arrest the actor. He also sought more time for the accused to produce their phones.
However, the court denied his request and ordered that the phones be surrendered by Monday, noting that “the prosecution has every right to seek that the accused hand over the mobile phones for forensic examination” and that the examination of the phones “must be done by one of the agencies notified under Section 79 A of IT Act.”
Meanwhile, Dileep had earlier moved the HC seeking anticipatory bail in this new FIR. The bail plea is due for hearing on Wednesday and the actor and the other accused have been granted interim protection from arrest until then.
For a full timeline of the female actor abduction and assault case, see here.