Written by: Akash Deep (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
Tarun Tejpal, a former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine, who was accused of sexually assaulting former colleague in 2013 get acquitted of all charges by the Goa Trial Court on May 21, 2021. He was booked under section-341 (wrongful restraint), section-342 (wrongful confinement), section-354 (sexual harassment), section-354A (demand for sexual favours), section-354B (assault or use of criminal force with intent to disrobe), section-376 (2F) and 376 (2K), which deals with Rape by person in position of control.
The victim complained against Tejpal that he had sexually assaulted her in an elevator of the hotel on 7 th and 8 th November 2013 to Shoma Choudhary then managing director of Tehelka magazine on November 18, 2013. Thereafter, on the very next day, Tarun Tejpal sent an apology email to the victim. On November 20, 2013, he stepped down as the editor-in-chief after the allegations of sexual assault on him by a female colleague. On November 23, an FIR was filed by Goa police against him based on the complaint. He was arrested on November 30, 2013 after the lower court rejected his bail application. In 2014, SC granted him a regular bail. After that, he requested the court to conduct the trial-in-camera to protect the privacy of both the parties which was allowed by the Sessions court.
SESSIONS COURT’S OBSERVATION
The lower court held that due to lack of evidence and some facts which creates “doubt on her truthfulness” the court said that the complainant did not show any kind of behaviour that a sexual assault victim likely to show. The court found that there is a lack of corroborative evidence which supports the allegations made by the victim, therefore, the benefit of doubt given to the accused. The court further observed that the woman complained against Tejpal that he had sexually assaulted her in an elevator of the hotel on 7 th and 8 th November 2013 then why she texted three times in a minute on November 8, 2013 about her location to accused if she had been sexually assaulted by him recently and was terrified of him. Two issues raised that weather the accused had committed rape, outraged the woman’s modesty, wrongfully restrained her in the elevator and whether he was in a position to control or dominate the woman, all were answered in negative. There are many instances which created doubt on her truthfulness, there is no evidence about the delay in lodging the FIR and also the victim had refused to go for medical examination. On May 21, 2021, the trial court, acquitted Tarun Tejpal of all the charges.
TEJPAL’S STATEMENT AFTER HIS ACQUITTAL
“I was falsely accused of sexual assault by a colleague in November, 2013. The last 7 years have been traumatic for me and my family as we have dealt with undesirable fallout of the false allegations on our professional and public lives. Today, the hon’ble trial court of Goa has acquitted me. I would like to with profound respect thank this court for its impartial and fair trial.”