Supreme Court to hear Kerala govt plea against grant of bail to Malayalam film producer Vijay Babu on Wednesday

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Supreme Court of India

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear on Wednesday pleas of the Kerala government and an actress, who has alleged rape by Malayalam actor-producer Vijay Babu challenging the grant of anticipatory bail to him by the High Court.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear on Wednesday pleas of the Kerala government and an actress, who has alleged rape by Malayalam actor-producer Vijay Babu challenging the grant of anticipatory bail to him by the High Court.

A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari listed the matter for hearing on July 6 after it was mentioned by senior advocate Jaideep Gupta for the Kerala government and advocate Ragenth Basant for the victim. Gupta said that this matter requires urgent listing as anticipatory bail has been granted to a person, who initially ran away to Dubai and then to Georgia and had come back to India only because his passport was impounded. He said that the order of the High Court says that he is to be granted bail, if he is to be arrested and fixed the interrogation timing from June 27 to July 3.

Advocate Ragenth Basant, appearing for the victim, said that the accused has named the rape survivor on his Facebook live to the entire world and is putting pressure on her to withdraw the complaint. "Every day is a risk for me, till he is out", he said and sought urgent listing of the matter. The bench then listed both the pleas for hearing on Wednesday. On June 22, the High Court granted anticipatory bail to Vijay Babu. The High Court had granted Babu relief subject to the conditions that he shall "surrender" before the investigating officer (IO) on June 27 for interrogation. He can be interrogated for the next 7 days from then till July 3 and he shall not contact or interact with the victim or any of the witnesses in the case, it had said.

The other conditions imposed on him by the court were that he "shall not indulge in any form of attack through the social media or other modes against the victim or her family", not leave Kerala, and if a fresh passport has been issued to him, to surrender the same. The court had further said that if the IO intends to arrest Babu, he shall be released on bail on his executing a bond of Rs 5 lakh along with two sureties of the same amount. During the period from June 27 to July 3, he shall be deemed to be under the custody of police "for facilitating the requirements of investigation", the court had said allowing his plea seeking anticipatory bail in the rape case. The police had opposed his plea saying that the practice of filing applications for bail sitting outside the country should not be entertained.

The court had not accepted the contention as it was of the view that an application for pre-arrest bail can be filed even by a person residing outside the country. The court had granted him interim protection from arrest on May 31 and since then it was being extended from time to time. In his plea before the High Court, Babu had alleged that the rape case has been filed against him to blackmail him. He has been accused of allegedly sexually assaulting a female actor and disclosing the victim's identity through a Facebook live session.

The producer-actor had also alleged in his plea, that there is a "trend" of making sexual allegations against anybody to tarnish the image of a person, who is having popularity in society and for the sake of publicity. Babu had claimed that he was innocent and was "highly aggrieved" by the one-sided approach of the authorities to make him a "scapegoat for the purpose of news and the media". The woman, who appeared in movies produced by Babu's production house, lodged a complaint with the police on April 22 and detailed through a Facebook post the physical assault and sexual exploitation she had allegedly suffered at the hands of the producer-actor for the past one-and-half months.

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