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Kerala HC dismisses 2017 actress assault victim plea to change trial court

Kerala HC dismisses 2017 actress assault victim plea to change trial court

Published:22 September 2022

Rejecting the contentions made by the petitioner, the court said it was of the firm view that the petitioner's apprehensions regarding possible interference in the fair trial are not reasonable.

Kochi | The Kerala High Court on Thursday dismissed the plea of the 2017 actress assault victim to transfer the trial of the case, in which actor Dileep is also an accused, to another lower court.
Justice Ziyad Rahman A A rejected the victim's plea in which she had alleged that Dileep, the eight accused in the case, had close ties to the trial judge and her husband.
Rejecting the contentions made by the petitioner, the court said it was of the firm view that the petitioner's apprehensions regarding possible interference in the fair trial are not reasonable.
"Possibly, the frequent discussions and debates conducted and being conducted by various news channels in connection with this case for several days and months created some wrong perceptions about the trial of the case, and it apparently influenced the general public at large, including the petitioner. Though I do find that this petition is submitted by the petitioner with all bonafides, I have all the reasons to assume that she is a victim of such wrong perceptions and aspersions created by the media", the court said.
The court said it is evident that the petitioner was skeptical about the whole proceedings right from the inception.
"Instances for the same are plenty", it said.
Noting that initially, she wanted the trial to be conducted before the Sessions Court presided by a woman judge instead of the Principal Sessions Court, which was permitted, the court said later, she filed a transfer petition against the woman judge, alleging personal bias, which was found to be without any valid grounds.
She approached this court very recently by filing a writ petition, raising allegations against the investigation team and seeking a prayer that a further investigation be conducted under the supervision of this court, it said.
Observing that the said writ petition earlier came up before another learned judge of the High Court, it said at that point, she placed a request that the said judge shall not hear the said writ petition and sought his recusal.
Accordingly, the said judge recused from hearing the case.
"She again submitted this transfer petition raising apprehensions about the learned Sessions Judge for the second time. Thus, apparently, there is an atmosphere of distrust from the point of view of the petitioner; a distrust on the present Sessions Judge, distrust on the judge of this court, and distrust on the investigation team, which are obviously influenced by the impressions created by the media through the 'trials' conducted in their studios.
"It is unfortunate that, in the debates in media ('trials'), causes and issues are prejudged, and the verdicts are passed, expecting the courts to pass orders, sentencing the accused to the maximum, by following their declarations", the court said.
It further said these so called debates, claimed to be carried out to enlighten the public at large, convey their views (instead of news), without even fully knowing the nature of materials placed before the court, without properly understanding the circumstances under which the courts take decisions and unaware of the legal provisions and principles relied on/applied by the courts.
It also said this was not the first time this court was forced to make observations regarding the media trial concerning the case at hand.
Endorsing the view that judges must follow their oaths and do their duty, heedless of editorials, letters, telegrams, picketers, threats, petitions, panellists and talk shows, the High court said "Now, it's time for introspection, it's time to take the stock and it's time to leave the justice delivery system alone, to do its job." "Although criticism is the backbone of democracy and the media is expected to do that, in this case, it is seen transgressed the limits of fairness, reasonableness and rationality", the court said dismissing the victim's plea.
Referring to the timelimit fixed by the Supreme Court, which will expire on January 31, the court further said every endeavour must be taken by all the parties concerned to complete the trial of the case within the said period and "this Court expects that all would work for it, in tandem." The petitioner had contended that she would not get justice if the lower court was not changed and that the trial would not be fair.
Incidentally, it was on the victim's plea that the High Court in 2018 had set up a special court with a woman judge for the trial which had commenced in 2020.
The victim, in her plea, had also alleged that there were several instances where the Special Public Prosecutor in the case was unable to proceed with the trial and that there were repeated and persistent attempts on Dileep's part to influence and intimidate the witnesses.
Other grievances she had against the trial court judge was the rejection of the prosecution plea to cancel Dileep's bail and declining various requests and demands of the prosecution.
The victim said that when the judge was transferred from a particular court as the Principal Sessions Judge, the case was also transferred to her court and claimed that such transfer of case by administrative order was not legal.
The actress, who has worked in Tamil and Telugu films, was abducted and allegedly molested inside her car for two hours by the accused, who had forced their way into the vehicle on the night of February 17, 2017 and later escaped in a busy area.
The entire act was filmed by the accused to blackmail the actress, according to the prosecution.
There are 10 accused in the case. 



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