Eighty-five days after his arrest in the case of abduction and sexual assault of an actress, popular Malayalam actor Dileep walked out of Aluva sub-jail, near Kochi, on Tuesday after the Kerala High Court granted him bail in view of the changed circumstances.
Four bail applications of the actor had earlier been rejected —twice each in the magistrate court at Angamaly and the HC.
On Tuesday, the bench of Justice Sunil Thomas observed that there is a definite change of circumstances from what existed when his previous bail applications were considered, and rejected. “The investigation has reached the final stage, all crucial witnesses have been questioned, and collection of evidence was almost over,” the court observed.
“Hence, further custody of the petitioner on the basis of apprehension of interference in the trial, at this stage, may not be justified,” the judge said.
The court also said although the prosecution’s allegation is very serious and the petitioner is alleged to be the person who engineered the crime, unlike the other six accused, he had not participated in the actual sexual assault.
While granting bail, the court imposed strict conditions. Dileep has to execute a bond for the sum of Rs 1 lakh with two sureties each for a similar amount before the magistrate court. The court said he should not interfere with the probe nor intimidate the witnesses. Besides, the actor has to surrender his passport before the magistrate court.
Dileep walked out of jail to a rousing reception by his fans, who had gathered in numbers.
Bail for the popular actor, who is also a producer and distributor, is a big relief for the Malayalam film industry, as multiple projects, together costing Rs 50 crore, were in various stages of production when Dileep was arrested on July 10.
On February 17, the actress was abducted and sexually assaulted in a moving car near Kochi.
Six people were subsequently arrested and charge-sheeted for the crime. Prominent among them was Sunil Kumar, alias Pulsar Suni, who had been a driver engaged by several film personalities in recent years. Suni had worked as driver for Dileep’s wife Kavya Madhavan, too.