Malayalam movie producer and actor Vijay Babu was on Wednesday granted anticipatory bail by the Kerala High Court in a rape case against him. Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas granted Babu the 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 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 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 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 did not accept the contention as it was of the view that that an application for pre-arrest bail can be filed even by a person residing outside the country.
"However, the only limitation is that prior to the final hearing, the applicant must be inside the country to enable the court to impose and enforce conditions contemplated under the statutory provisions, it added. 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, 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.
The woman's lawyer, opposing Babu's plea, had argued before the court that the actor-producer had allegedly "misused and abused the trust reposed on him by her". It was also argued on her behalf that being a novice artist, her objections were easily subdued and that she was allegedly subjected to repeated sexual assaults by him.
-With PTI input