It was shocking rather surprising to know that on Friday, May 21, former editor of Tehelka Tarun Tejpal was acquitted by the Goa district court of Mapusa under the accusation of the rape case of his colleague (also a friend’s daughter).
As per the reports of Live Law, the alleged crime was committed on November 7, 2013, inside an elevator of a five-star hotel Grand Hyatt, Bambolim in North Goa during a newsmagazine’s event. He was arrested on November 30 the same year.
The accused faced charges to:
a) sexually assault a woman in an event under IPC sections 341 (wrongful restraint),
b) 342 (wrongful confinement),
c) 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty),
d) 354A (sexual harassment),
e) 354B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe),
f) 376 (2)(f) (person in a position of authority over woman, committing rape)
g)376 (2)(k) (rape by a person in a position of control).
The journalist was booked under numerous sections of the Indian Penal Code Act.
Later in 2014, the Goa Police Crime Branch filed a 2846-page charge-sheet against the accused. The charge sheet was divided into a total of 12 volumes with statements of 152 witnesses. He was relieved on regular bail the same year in July 2014, by the supreme court.
In the meantime, the journalist tried to accuse him of a political angle and said the whole incident of his being booked under various sections to be a political conspiracy against him under Goa being ruled by the BJP led government.
Later in March 2018, the examination-in-chief of the victim was presented as a prime and first witness in the court by the prosecution. The prosecution presented 71 witnesses and cross-examined five defense witnesses. The arguments were based on electronic shreds of evidence in the form of CCTV footage, WhatsApp messages, and emails. However, the trial was delayed and later held in October 2019 as Tarun Tejpal moved Bombay HC and the Supreme court to quash the charges he was booked under. The pleas were turned down by both the courts, saying the incident to be “morally abhorrent” and “assault on the victim’s privacy.”
Even though the accused Tarun Tejpal at a time had confessed his crime of sexually assaulting a colleague, he was acquitted by the Mapusa District and Sessions court on Friday.
The accused journalist in November 2013, soon after he was alleged to have committed a crime of sexually assaulting a woman (his colleague) in an elevator, a total of two emails were sent by him, including one to Shoma Chaudhry, the then managing Director of Tehelka and the other one to the victim herself. The email to the victim clearly stated,
“I apologize unconditionally for the lapse of judgment that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on November 7 and November 8, 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me.”
Another email written to Shoma Chaudhry in a way was a confession of the black deeds of the journalist, which read as the incident was a bad lapse of judgment and an awful misreading of the situation, which have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all they believe in and fights for.
Looking at the seriousness of the case and the justice being delivered to the victim, the Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday said that the Goa government would challenge the verdict on Tarun Tejpal’s acquittal in the Bombay High Court.
The State Government will appeal against this verdict in the High Court. The govt is very serious about this: Goa CM Pramod Sawant on the acquittal of Tarun Tejpal pic.twitter.com/p3ikll7z1f
— ANI (@ANI) May 21, 2021
After the journalist got acquitted by the court of Kshama Joshi, a statement was made out by Tejpal thanking all his known ones for standing by him. The letter was read by his daughter Cara on his behalf, which read,
“In November 2013, I was falsely accused of sexual assault by a colleague. Today the Hon’ble trial court of Additional Sessions judge Kshama Joshi, in Goa, has honorably acquitted me. In an awfully vitiated age, where ordinary courage has become rare, I thank her for standing by the truth.”
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) May 21, 2021
However, the netizens were seen crowding the social media platforms on the news of Tejpal’s acquittance and expressing their shock at the verdict, although the crime was accepted by the criminal years back in the emails written to the victim.
He is acquitted after publicly admitting his crime, apologizing and apparently doing a penance that lacerated him!!
— Pratyasha Rath (@pratyasharath) May 21, 2021
What Vinod Mehta wrote on Tarun Tejpal. Look at the wording for sexual harassment:
"Non-consensual carnal favour" pic.twitter.com/xM5G6SJNFG
— Chandra R. Srikanth (@chandrarsrikant) May 21, 2021
So #TarunTejpal is now calling the charges on him a "false allegation"
But the man clearly acknowledged the violation in an email sent to the girl in 2013.
Please direct me to any leading feminists outraging over this. pic.twitter.com/cbJoRX2Jpr
— Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj (@DeepikaBhardwaj) May 21, 2021
Where the largest democracy is all on its way to becoming a developed nation, there come many hurdles which restrict the path. Like many other countries globally, it becomes prominent for India to provide safety to the women of her land.
DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author