KOCHI: After prolonged delay due to Covid-19 and the lockdown, trial in the 2017 actor abduction case will, in all likelihood, resume on June 22.
But, there is a problem.
The tenure of Additional Special Sessions Court Judge Honey M Varghese, who is currently hearing the case, ends on June 24 and there is no word yet as to who would replace her.The transfer list brought out by the High Court earlier this year included the judge’s name as she is set to complete the three-year tenure at the Additional Special Sessions Court. As per the order, Justice Honey M Varghese is to take charge as Additional Sessions Judge at the court for conducting trial in cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in Kozhikode.
However, no judge has been appointed in her place at the Additional Special Sessions Court. “When the transfer list was published, it was speculated the current judge will be retained as the trial in the actor abduction case is being held at the court and she had examined initial witnesses. Now, with little over a week left before her tenure ends, the appointment of a new judge or an order to retain her is yet to be issued. We expect some clarity at least by next week,” said a person associated with the actor abduction case.Sources said transfer of judges midway through a trial is not unusual and cannot be said to impact the trial.
“In cases of grave nature, it is preferred the same judge conducts the entire trial. In this case, the current judge has examined crucial witnesses and evidence, including the memory card containing the visuals of the attack on the victim,” a source said. Ten persons, including actor Dileep, are facing trial in the case which pertains to the attack on a Malayalam film actor inside a moving vehicle on February 17, 2017.