The Kerala government’s request to change a woman judge in a trial court hearing the case against actor Dileep, an accused in the alleged kidnapping and sexual assault of an actor, was rejected by the Supreme Court today.
The state government had alleged bias by the trial court judge who is hearing the sexual assault charges against Dileep. Alleging bias by the judge, the government pointed out certain issues while recording cross-examination of witnesses in the case.
The top court said these allegations are “unwarranted”, adding that such allegations by the government will affect the morale of the judge.
The Kerala High Court too had earlier dismissed similar requests from the state government and the woman actor.
Among the 10 accused in the case is Dileep, who allegedly hatched the criminal conspiracy to kidnap and assault the woman.
“Much hype has been created in Kerala in this sensitive case. There must be some restraint from all sides,” the Supreme Court said. “If the court is not properly recording cross-examination or if the state has any objections, it can take the issue to the higher court,” it said.
The proceedings in the trial court have been held in-camera with severe restrictions on media reportage. In her petition, the survivor said the court has failed to uphold the spirit of in-camera trial.
The special public prosecutor had submitted his resignation to the government because of certain remarks made by the trial court Judge. But the resignation is yet to be accepted. The top court today have the state government a week’s time to change the special public prosecutor, if the state wishes to do so.
The woman actor was allegedly kidnapped and sexually abused while travelling to Kochi for work in February 2017. There were at least four men, who had allegedly filmed the attack.
Dileep, once considered by many to be Kerala’s number three superstar after Mammootty and Mohanlal, was arrested in July 2017.
In December 2018, the Kerala High Court had dismissed his petition for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the case.
The actor had asked for a CBI probe, contending that he was falsely implicated. In January this year, the Supreme Court refused to stay the trial against Dileep, while a sessions court dismissed his discharge petition seeking that his name be removed from the list of accused.