The Kerala High Court on Friday asked Malayalam actor Dileep why he was apprehensive about handing over his phone to the police, The New Indian Express reported.

The court was hearing anticipatory bail pleas of Dileep and other accused persons in a case related to alleged conspiracy of killing an officer investigating the 2017 sexual assault case against the actor.

On February 17, 2017, an actor was allegedly kidnapped and sexually abused inside her car for two hours. Dileep is among the 10 accused persons in the case and is the alleged mastermind of the assault.

On January 9, Kerala Police’s Crime Branch had registered a fresh first information report against Dileep based on a purported audio clip in which he is heard asking some persons to “wait to see how the five investigating officers [of the sexual assault case] are going to suffer”.

On Thursday, the High Court had granted the actor protection from arrest till February 2 in the conspiracy case.

Director General of Prosecution TA Shaji had sought a court directive to Dileep and the other petitioners to surrender their mobile phones, which they refused to hand over to the investigating officer during interrogation.

At Friday’s hearing, the court told Dileep that it was “improper” to not hand over his phone to the investigating officers. The court asked Dileep why he was not surrendering before the High Court registry.

“Don’t you have faith in this court?” the court asked.

The actor’s counsel argued that the case was a “witch-hunt” and a “violation of his privacy”. Dileep’s counsel also said that in response to a notice by the crime branch of the police, he had already stated that the phones are with his forensic experts.

In its observation, the court said that while prima facie, there was nothing to prove an offence, the allegations against Dileep were serious and required investigation. The court also voiced concern about the investigation agency’s effort to “establish a conspiracy”, The New Indian Express reported.

The court will take up the matter again on Saturday.