Dileep denied bail by Kerala High Court: Loss of stardom for actor as jail stay continues?
The Kerala High Court denied bail to Mollywood superstar Dileep on Monday, 24 July 2017, in connection with the alleged abduction and assault of a popular Malayalam actress dating to February this year.
With this, not only is Dileep looking at his two-week jail stay being prolonged, but also the loss of his stardom.
Dileep functioned almost as a one-man industry in Mollywood, making it difficult to oust the actor, producer, distributor and theatre owner from the business. However, the Kerala HC's observation that there is prima facie evidence against Dileep, has already damaged his career as an actor.
While those in the legal fraternity point out that denial of bail should not be taken as the court's verdict, as a celebrity whose career depends on his public reputation, Dileep would find it very difficult to stage a comeback. The mood of the public has been against him and in recent days, has become even more pronounced. The Kerala Police's claim, of having enough evidence against Dileep in the alleged conspiracy to attack the actress, seems to have been validated.
At this juncture, fans and supporters of Dileep will find it difficult to criticise the police's investigations. Any argument through the mainstream press or social media about Dileep's innocence would have few takers at this point. And with reports about a PR company (or companies) being hired by Dileep's team to help defend him on social media being looked into by the police, any support for the actor on these channels would not go un-scrutinised.
Public personalities, like independent MLA PC George who had earlier defended Dileep, are likely to withdraw their support after this latest High Court order.
Local reports have said that after the Kerala HC denied Dileep bail, the actor seemed dejected as his lawyers had expressed confidence in getting a ruling in his favour. The court, while rejecting the bail application, observed that the alleged crime is a serious one. It further accepted the prosecution's argument that if granted bail, the accused might destroy evidence.
Now it is not known how long Dileep will have to stay in jail. As the investigations are still continuing, it is likely that the prosecution will oppose granting him bail before the process is complete. Dileep’s manager Appunni, who is wanted by the police, is missing.
Those following the case say police may request custody of Dileep — once they arrest Appunni — to question the duo together. Although Dileep has the option to move the division bench of the High Court or Supreme Court of India for bail, it is time-consuming and if he fails to get bail there, it would further dent his image.
Meanwhile, the situation is getting more complicated for Dileep as other investigating agencies — like the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department — have started looking into his assets. The Kerala Revenue Department is already investigating allegations that the actor's property, D Cinemas in Chalakkudy, Thrissur district, is part of a land grab. The Kerala Lokayukta has served a notice to Dileep over the issue. Dileep’s shows organised overseas have also come under the authorities' scanner and the actor will have to provide details of his income to the investigating agencies.
Legal experts pointed out that there is no need for Dileep to lose hope if he is innocent, as the court generally considers the gravity of the charge and prima facie evidence in a case, when deciding on a bail application. If the charge is serious and investigations in the case are ongoing, then chances of receiving bail are very low. Dileep will have a chance to prove his innocence once the trial begins.
Impact on Malayalam film industry
Producers of three Malayalam films with Dileep playing the lead role, which are in different stages of production, will have to bear their losses. It is unlikely that they will be able to release their completed films — or complete those that are in different stages of production.
Dileep — like any accused under Indian law — must be presumed innocent unless the court returns a verdict of 'guilty'. As the investigations continue, there are chances of further twists and turns being revealed. The statement of Congress MLA PT Thomas, who was among the first to call the police after the assault of the actress took place in February, could be crucial. On Monday, 24 July, Thomas' car came under attack. There are also rumours of a gangster connected with the drug mafia being involved in the actress' assault. The police have also not yet recovered the original mobile phone that was used to record the assault on the actress. So how the case will add up once all the evidence is in, remains unclear.
What is clear, is that Dileep will not emerge from this scandal unscathed.