Actor Dileep can inspect video of assault on actress, won’t get a copy: SC
Malayalam actor Dileep accused of abduction and sexual assault of an actress cannot get a copy of the memory card which contains visuals of the crime, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
A bench of justices AM Khanwikar and Dinesh Maheshwari, however, held that Dileep can inspect the video contained in the memory card subject to certain conditions to secure the privacy of the actress who was assaulted.
Dileep’s plea to access the memory card was earlier turned down by the Kerala high court.
In February 2017, a popular Malayalam film actress was abducted and molested by a gang of six. The entire act, which allegedly took place in a moving vehicle, was filmed by the accused to blackmail the actress. Subsequently, Dileep was arrested on a charge of masterminding the abduction and assault.
According to the prosecution, Dileep had plotted the attack as a payback for the alleged role of the actress in Dileep’s separation from his former wife.
He was subsequently released on bail.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Dileep in Supreme Court, argued that a memory card is a document within the meaning of Section 207 of Code of Criminal Procedure and Dileep is, therefore, entitled to a copy of the same. Section 207 lays down that the magistrate has to furnish copies of the police report and other documents to the accused.
Rohatgi reasoned that the memory card contains visuals in a stationary vehicle while the assault allegedly took place in a moving vehicle. He claimed that the footage was doctored since it is not a single video but an amalgam of shorter edited clips. Dileep, therefore, claimed that it was essential to have a copy of the video to be able to rebut the prosecution case.
The Kerala government had objected, arguing that Dileep’s lawyers had already watched the video in the magistrate’s chamber. The government also argued that giving Dileep access to the video clip will compromise the right to privacy of the actress.
The Kerala high court had dismissed Dileep’s plea on the ground that memory card was only the end product of the crime and therefore, it was a material object and not a document under the criminal procedure code’s Section 207.
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