The trial of the case of the abduction and sexual assault of a female Malayalam actor, that is being heard at the Additional Special Sessions Court in Ernakulam in Kerala, came to a halt on Thursday after accused-turned-approver Vipin Lal failed to turn up at court.
Vipin, who was earlier the tenth accused in the case, had turned approver in 2017 and gave a confidential statement to the magistrate against actor Dileep, who is the eighth accused in the case. Vipin was released from the Central Prison in Viyyur in 2018 after he turned approver.
Dileep filed a petition challenging the release of Vipin without securing a bail. Dileep, in his plea, alleged that Vipin was a witness planted by the investigating agency to adduce evidence against him. Dileep requested the court to not examine Vipin without sending him back to prison as his release was against the norms.
The court on Wednesday ordered that Vipin be taken in custody. The court observed that if he was arrested, he should be produced in court on Thursday. The police have been unable to trace him.
The court reissued an arrest warrant against Vipin, which is to be executed on or before Saturday.
Vishnu seeks to turn approver
Vishnu, who is presently the tenth accused in the case, on Thursday sought to turn approver. He offered to admit his role in the case and reveal all the details he knows.
Vishnu was accused of smuggling a mobile phone inside the jail to Pulsar Suni, the first accused. According to the prosecution, he also conspired with the other accused to extort money from Dileep.
The court will examine Vishnu’s application on Friday.
Court dismisses bail pleas of three accused
The court on Tuesday dismissed the bail pleas filed by three accused persons – Pulsar Suni, Manikandan and Vijeesh. The three, who have been in custody for over four years, had filed individual bail petitions claiming that the examination of 80 witnesses was over and that no allegations, of them trying to influence the witnesses, had been raised against them.
However, the court dismissed the pleas and stressed on the importance of the presence of the accused during the trial.
The case so far
The case began in February 17, 2017, when a female Mayalam actor was abducted while she was travelling from Kochi to Thrissur in Kerala. She was sexually assaulted and then dropped near the residence of director Lal. Soon after the incident, the first accused in the abduction case, Pulsar Suni, the driver of the vehicle she was assaulted in, was arrested. In June 2017, Pulsar Suni said that actor Dileep had conspired in the assault.
On July 20, 2017, Dileep was arrested as the eighth accused in the case. He was granted bail in October 2017. Ever since he was let out, the prosecution counsel has alleged that the trial proceedings were constantly being delayed.
In October 2020, both the survivor and the prosecution moved the Kerala High Court to transfer the trial from Ernakulam claiming bias on the part of the judge. However, the high court dismissed the pleas after observing that there was no sustainable grounds to transfer the case. The prosecution later moved the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court also rejected the state’s plea and upheld the decision of the Kerala High Court.
In protest, special prosecutor A Sureshan, resigned on November 24, 2020. He was later replaced by VN Anilkumar.