Updated: January 25, 2022 2:06:49 am
The Supreme Court on Monday turned down Kerala government’s plea to extend the time for completion of trial in the actress abduction and sexual assault case against Malayalam actor Dileep. The court said it can do so only if the trial judge felt the need for more time, and not at the instance of the state.
“We will not pass order of extension at the instance of state,” a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar told senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, who appeared for the State and submitted that the time be extended by six more months.
Appearing for Dileep, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi opposed Kerala’s request and accused the State of trying to “delay the trial in many ways”. He said, “First attempt was to change the judge, which became unsuccessful. Second was the resignation of the prosecutor.”
Rohatgi pointed out that “time has already been extended four times and the State is playing a mischievous game”.
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Justice Khanwilkar asked whether the trial court had not asked for more time.
“No,” said Rohatgi, prompting the response from the court that it will not extend time on the State’s request.
Gupta said the trial court was finding it difficult to grant the prosecution’s request to examine more witnesses due to the time limit. But Justice Ravikumar pointed out that there is time till February 15 to complete the trial, and that any decision in this regard will have to be taken by the trial judge.
Gupta reiterated that the trial court had its limitations due to the time set by SC for completion of trial. He said there were some important revelations which require further investigation.
Opposing this, Rohatgi said the revelations were not trustworthy and termed the application an attempt to further delay the trial.
As the court made it clear that it did not intend to grant the State’s request, Gupta requested it to keep the application pending, but the bench rejected this, too. “We will not keep it pending, as that will send a wrong message to the trial court,” Justice Khanwilkar said. “It’s left to the discretion of the trial court judge.”
Rohatgi also accused the State of conducting a media trial in the case. “This trial is in-camera, but the state is conducting a media trial and my client, who is a famous actor in Kerala, is having to face all this,” he submitted.
“Let the trial judge be free to do justice,” Justice Khanwilkar responded, disposing the state government plea.
Dileep is one of the accused in the case of abduction and sexual assault of an actress. The case is being heard in a special court in Kochi and is in its final stages. In July last year, the apex court had ordered that the trial should be completed by mid February 2022.
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