SC upholds Vijay Babu’s bail, restrains social media posts on rape survivor | Latest News India

The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued the defense of Malayalam actor-producer Vijay Babu’s arrest in an alleged rape case, barring him from making any social media posts on the complainant, an aspiring female actress, and allowed his trial after a July 3 deadline. set by the High Court.

The Kerala High Court on June 22 granted anticipatory bail to Vijay Babu. However, the complainant and the state government approached the Supreme Court challenging the immunity from his arrest.

“We decline to interfere with the Kerala High Court order…we make it clear that the petitioner can be tried after July 3 if necessary,” said a Supreme Court bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari.

The complainant, a 25-year-old Malayalam film actor, alleged that Vijay Babu sexually assaulted her on false promises of marriage. In a complaint lodged with the police on April 22, she alleged that the accused first raped her on March 16 this year and later on several occasions. Once, she was subjected to physical torture when she resisted his advances. Police have registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Vijay Babu under rape (IPC Section 376), criminal intimidation (IPC Section 506) and causing hurt (IPC Section 323).

The complainant, represented by senior advocate R Basant, told the Supreme Court that he fled to Dubai soon after the FIR was lodged and revealed his identity to the whole world on Facebook Live, knowing full well that this would not be allowed. A separate criminal case is pending against Babu for revealing the survivor’s identity. Basant said that the victim was laughing while the accused were roaming freely.

The bench said, “This is a very unfortunate incident. None of us have named the victims. She will not be a laughing stock.” To allay concerns for her safety and the safety of her family and other witnesses in the case, the bench imposed strict conditions in the order, saying, “The respondent (Vijay Babu) shall not make any posts on social media about the victim.”

The court reiterated other conditions imposed by the Kerala High Court that the accused should not tamper with evidence, influence any witness in any way, harass the survivor-complainant and be restrained from leaving Kerala without the permission of the court of jurisdiction.

The state, represented by senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, told the court that after the FIR was registered, the accused’s behavior did not rise to the level as he deleted the messages he had interacted with the survivor on WhatsApp from March 16 to 31. The state said its hands were tied as the High Court restricted the prosecution from June 27 (the day he surrendered) to July 3.

Gupta told the court that the accused initially fled to Dubai and then to Georgia and returned only when his passport was seized by the authorities here. The Supreme Court said that the conditions imposed by the High Court were sufficient to ensure the availability of the accused for investigation. Further, the bench observed that the survivor deleted the WhatsApp messages and knew that the accused was a married man.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Vijay Babu, told the court that the accused have agreed to make themselves available for investigation and all the concerns of the state and the complainant have been addressed by the High Court. Luthra accepted the court’s suggestion to modify the hearing beyond July 3.

Vijay Babu submitted before the High Court that he had a consensual relationship with the complainant. He claimed that a rape case was registered after she was replaced by another actor in a film produced by him.

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