New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday partially allowed a plea by Malayalam actor Dileep and granted him access to a memory card of a mobile phone in the 2017 actress assault case.
A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari ruled that a memory card shall be considered as document under the CrPC, access of which must be given to an accused if the prosecution has relied on such an evidence.
The bench held that ordinarily, a copy of such a material should be given to the accused but where the issues of privacy of the victim or witnesses come up, the rights can be balanced by moulding the relief.
In the present case, since the memory card is said to contain the video of the alleged sexual assault of the noted south Indian actress, the top court said that Dileep could get a limited access to the memory card.
It directed that Dileep and his legal team could secure a second expert opinion on the veracity of the memory card and experts of Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) could be given the access for this task.
The bench said that Dileep could the present his defence with the help of the second expert opinion while adding that the memory card would not be cloned.
The order came on an appeal filed by P Gopalkrishnan alias Dileep, against the Kerala HC's order of August 14, 2018.
The legal question involved in the matter included if the memory card was a part of the police document, which has to be provided to the accused under Section 207 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Kerala High Court had ruled that the memory card was not a document, which can be provided to the accused. The HC also said it can't be released as it contained sensitive information which could harm the reputation of the victim.
Dileep, for his part, contended he had a constitutional right to the fair trial while the prosecution had cited right to privacy of the actress since the memory card contained acts of the purported crime.
According to the prosecution, the actor had hatched conspiracy with the other accused to abduct the actress and take her nude photographs, as he harboured ill-feeling against her for spoiling his previous marriage. Dileep, who was arrested on July 10, 2017, was released on bail on October 3, 2017.