Kerala High Court on Tuesday extended the interim pre-arrest bail granted to Malayalam actor and producer Vijay Babu in a rape case till Friday, Live Law reported. Babu has been accused of raping a woman, who is also an actor, after promising her roles in films.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas gave the extension after the government sought more time to oppose the anticipatory bail plea because Additional Director of Prosecution Gracious Kuriakose is in quarantine, the Mathrubhumi reported.

On May 31, the court had granted interim relief from arrest to Babu till June 2. It was extended again for two more days.

The 46-year-old actor was in Dubai when the police had filed a case against him in April. He had returned to Kochi on June 1.

Justice Thomas, however, had allowed the police to interrogate the actor.

After Babu returned, he appeared before the police for questioning. He claimed that he had a consensual physical relationship with the woman and she levelled the allegations after she was denied a job in his movie.

At previous hearings, Kurakose had contended that Babu was not entitled to any relief as he was absconding.

At the May 31 hearing, the judge had said that Babu would remain elusive if the court refused interim bail to him. He had added that if the prosecution was really working in the interest of the complainant, it would want the actor to return to India.

Babu was initially charged under Sections 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. Another case was lodged against the actor after he went live on Facebook on April 26 and revealed the name of the complainant. Babu also refuted the allegations against him.

Revealing the identity of a woman who has been raped or has levelled the allegations is punishable under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code.

The allegations

In a statement released on social media, the complainant alleged she was physically and sexually assaulted by Babu between March and April.

“I have known him [Babu] for a few years in the industry and had worked together with him for a movie,” the actor wrote. “Through this time, he gained my trust by being friendly and advising me as I was a newcomer in the film industry with no proper guidance. He behaved like my saviour for my personal and professional problems but under the guise has sexually exploited me.”

The actor said she was afraid to speak about the alleged assault due to Babu’s influence in the industry.

“Each time I tried to run away from this trauma, he would come after me with false promises of marriage,” she said. “I was under his control and was scared to speak up because of the clout, influence and power he wielded in the film industry.”

Meanwhile, Babu said that he had known the woman since 2018 and had given her a role in one of his films after an audition.

“She sent several messages to me saying that she was suffering from depression,” he said. “I have around 400 screenshots of those messages. I haven’t sent any messages to that woman for the last one-and-a-half years.”