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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 21 January 2022 11.20 AM IST

Actor sexual assault: One accused gets bail

high-court

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to one of the accused in an actor sexual assault case in which popular Malayalam actor Dileep is also a co-accused.

Justice Sunil Thomas granted the relief to 31-year-old Manikandan, who was allegedly driving the vehicle in which the actor was molested, subject to his furnishing a bond of Rs 1 lakh with two sureties of the like sum each.

The court said at least one of the sureties should be a close relative of the accused, preferably one among his parents or siblings.

The other bail conditions were that he shall surrender his passport, not leave Ernakulam district till trial is over, shall continue to appear before the trial court and shall not threaten, coerce or influence the witnesses.

The High Court granted him the relief saying that since 180 out of the 360 witnesses and an additional 29 witnesses are yet to be examined, the possibility of the trial taking more time cannot be completely ruled out.

It also said that the accused was in jail since February 22, 2017 for nearly four-and-a-half years and on evaluation of the prosecution's allegations, his role stands on a slightly lesser footing than that of the act committed by the prime accused.

Besides that the accused has no criminal antecedents, the court noted in its order.

''Having evaluated the entire facts and considering the nature of the allegation against the petitioner (accused), he definitely needs a different consideration from that of the first accused. I find that the further continuation of the petitioner in jail may not be just,'' Justice Thomas said in the order.

According to the prosecution, Manikandan, along with five others, hatched a criminal conspiracy to kidnap a famous film actor, wrongfully confine her and to record her nude photograph.

In furtherance of that conspiracy, on February 17, 2017, when the victim was proceeding in her vehicle along the National Highway after stage-managing a fake accident, Manikandan, along with few others, forcefully entered the vehicle, confined her and took her to Kochi, the prosecution told the court. It also said that on the way, the first accused entered the vehicle, sexually abused her for two hours and videographed the entire act with a mobile. The entire act was filmed by the accused to blackmail the actor, the prosecution had said.

There are 10 accused in the case and initially, police arrested seven people.

Dileep was arrested subsequently and let out on bail later.

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