Actor alleges attempt to intimidate during trial

Sexual assault survivor’s appeal before Kerala High Court for change of trial court

The survivor in the actor sexual assault case informed the High Court on Monday that there were attempts to harass and intimidate her during the cross-examination, which left her weeping most of the time.

Counsel for the survivor made the submissions when the petitions filed by her and the State government seeking to transfer the trial from Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Court to another court came up for hearing. The court reserved its orders and extended the stay for the trial till Friday.

The counsel submitted that during the trial, she was forced to undergo the ordeal of cross-examination for 9 to 10 days, in which irrelevant questions maligning her character were raised. No judge would have allowed such questions to a survivor of a sexual crime. Counsel S. Sreekumar submitted that the survivor was compelled to speak about the horrific incident in front of a large number of lawyers.

The survivor submitted that there should be a transparent and impartial trial in a criminal case. But it was not possible here as the court was biased.

Govt. stance

Senior public prosecutor Suman Chakravarthy submitted that the prosecution had tried its best to avoid embarrassment to the court. But, as the partisan attitude of the judge had crossed all boundaries, the State government had filed the petition. When the prosecution expressed lack of confidence in the judge, the proper course for the sessions court would have been to inform the High Court. But the presiding judge did not do so and went on with the trial.

He also handed over to the court a sealed cover containing the deposition of the survivor on the questions put to her during the cross-examination. Though a petition was filed before the trial court to stop the proceedings, the court went ahead with hearing all dormant applications, including the one for altering the charges against the accused, when the prosecutor was not present.

Despite producing a stay order by the High Court, the trial court said the stay was only for trial and not for pending applications and started posting and hearing these petitions with an endorsement that the prosecutor was absent, he submitted.

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