Sexual assault: Lawyers influenced witnesses, alleges actress
A top actress and survivor of a sexual assault in which a Malayalam superstar is an accused has complained to the Kerala Bar Council against three defence lawyers for allegedly influencing witnesses who eventually turned hostile.
The actress from Kerala, who has a major presence in other southern film industries as well, has sent an email to the Bar council accusing senior lawyer B. Raman Pillai and his assistants Philip Varghese and Sujesh Menon of influencing witnesses. The lawyers represent actor Dileep, who is the seventh accused in the case.
The survivor has in the complaint held the lawyers responsible for 20 witnesses turning hostile in the case that is still in trial stage. The lawyers have been accused of offering cash to influence the witnesses.
The crime branch had in February issued notice to Pillai, notifying him to be prepared to make a statement related to allegations of influencing witnesses in the 2017 actress assault case. But the lawyer had in his reply strongly objected to the notice and questioned its legality.
While Pillai had then denied the allegations, the lawyer did not comment specifically on the latest allegations levelled by the actress.
A source in the Bar council told The Telegraph that since the complaint did not meet the statutory requirements, the actress would be intimated soon about how to lodge such a complaint.
“We can act only if she files a complaint as per statutory procedures. The complainant has to submit 30 copies of the complaint along with a fee of
Rs 2,500. Only then will we start the procedure,” said the official who declined to be named.
Once the council chairperson is satisfied that the complaint fulfils the minimum requirement of preliminary evidence, he will revert to the complainant before presenting it before the general council that will then hear the accused lawyers. The maximum punishment for such offences, if proved, is cancellation of council membership.
The actress was kidnapped and sexually assaulted in a moving car in February 2017 in Ernakulam. The incident eventually led to the arrest of Dileep, who obtained bail after 85 days in judicial custody. Ten other persons are accused of direct involvement in the sexual assault and most of them remain in judicial custody.
Dileep has denied all charges.
In a related case, Dileep has countered charges levelled by the crime branch of destroying digital evidence from his mobile phone.
Dileep and five others, including his brother Anoop and brother-in-law Suraj, were booked in January this year based on a complaint by a police officer alleging that the actor and his kin had conspired to eliminate investigating officers in the rape case.
The second case was booked after filmmaker Balachandra Kumar released some audio clips in which the actor and his relatives were allegedly heard threatening to harm officers who investigated the kidnap and rape case.
Dileep recently filed a statement in Kerala High Court claiming that it was wrong to accuse him of destruction of evidence when all he did was to delete some messages not related to the conspiracy case. The statement sought the quashing of the FIR.