New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday decided to consider on December 11 a petition moved by actor Dileep seeking access to a copy of the video footage of the alleged attack on an actress in 2017. However, the bench comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and Hemant Gupta made it clear that it has to be examined whether the memory card was a 'document' under the provisions of the Information Technology Act.
Further action on the petition would be initiated only after examining what all materials could be treated as a document under the provisions of the IT Act, the bench stated.
Under Section 207 of Criminal Procedure, it is mandatory for the court to provide copies of police report and other documents to the accused. It also describes copies of what documents or statements have to be given to the accused persons. If the memory card is not considered as a 'document' under the provisions of the IT Act, the prosecution also cannot depend on its evidentiary value, the bench observed orally.
In a judgment in the past, the Supreme Court had ruled that a compact disc (CD) could be considered as a document under Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
Senior counsel Harin P Raval and standing counsel G Prakash, representing the state government, argued that there was no requirement to share the material with the accused as his lawyer had viewed the content of the memory card twice.
Dileep’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi contended the plea seeking a copy of the footage was filed based on the defence lawyer’s assessment that the footage was fabricated. It was a compendium of shorter clips shot inside a stationary vehicle as opposed to a 3-minute sequence, as is mentioned in the police records, captured in a moving car, Rastogi argued.
He submitted before the court that his client needed access to the footage to prove his innocence and establish that the visuals had been manipulated.
The police have claimed that the conspiracy to abduct and assault the actress in a moving car on February 17, 2017, was hatched by Dileep.
Dileep, who was arrested on July 10, 2017, was granted bail on October 3, after 85 days in custody. Earlier, the actor had moved lower courts and the Kerala High Court seeking the memory card but in vain. The court had upheld the police contention that evidence cannot be handed over to the accused.