The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Ernakulam Addition Special Sessions Court an extension of six months to complete the trial of the case of the abduction and sexual assault of a female Malayalam actor, in which actor Dileep is the eighth accused.
According to reports, the trial court had earlier approached the Supreme Court through the Kerala High Court seeking an extension. The request, made by the trial court judge Honey M Varghese, was heard by a three-member panel headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar.
The trial court reasoned that the extension of the deadline was necessary since there was a delay in conducting the trial due to the prosecution approaching the High Court over transferring the case to another court and the Special Public Prosecutor resigning.
The apex court permitted the extension and stated that no further extensions will be provided. The Supreme Court also requested all the parties involved to cooperate for the speedy disposal of the case.
In December 2019, the Supreme Court set the deadline for the district court to complete the trial in six months. However, the deadline was extended for another six months in August 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Supreme Court had ordered for the trial to end on February 4.
After a hiatus, the trial resumed in January 2020. Currently, over 100 witnesses have been examined by the court. The court has fixed the deadline for the completion of the first phase of the trial to March 17.
The case so far
The case began in February 17, 2017, when a female Malayalam 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.
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 were 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.