NEW DELHI: The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court refused to let former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal off the hook over the rape charges he is facing. Ruling against his petition challenging the framing of charges against him, the high court ruled on Tuesday, directed that the process may be begun.
Justice Prithviraj Chavan however directed that examination of witnesses at the lower court could only begin after its consent.
So, the trial against the former Tehelka magazine editor in chief, Tarun Tejpal, on rape case will open at the additional session’s court at Mapusa in Goa on September 28 as scheduled earlier.
The court will pronounce an order on the framing charges against 54-year-old Tejpal after the trial.
The senior journalist had challenged the framing of charges by the additional North Goa District and Sessions court against him.
Lawyer Aman Lekhi, appearing on behalf of Tejpal, had challenged the September 7 framing of charges process by the additional North Goa District and Sessions court , and argued that the accusations of rape were false.
Lekhi also argued that the prosecution had delayed handing over the evidence to him by three years.
In response, the prosecution lawyer Saresh Lotlikar argued that only a proper trial could establish the veracity of the charges levelled against the accused.
The next hearing at the trial court in Mapusa is scheduled for September
28. The High Court will continue hearing Tejpal's petition on November 1.
Tejpal is facing charges of sexually assaulting a former female junior colleague in the elevator of a five-star hotel, during a Tehelka fest in Goa in November 2013.
Subsequently, an FIR was filed against him and was asked to step down from his post at Tehelka magazine.
Tejpal will be tried for the charges of rape, sexual harassment, assault and wrongful restraint to her junior woman colleague.
Earlier in June 2017, Goa's Mapusa Court restricted the media from reporting any proceedings of the rape case accused.
The court passed the order under 327 (3) barring the media from covering the proceedings until completion of the trial.
On January 17, 2015, the Supreme Court of India had stayed the trial against Tejpal in connection with his alleged role in a sexual assault case for a period of three weeks.
Here is the timeline of Tarun Tejpal’s case:
- Tarun Tejpal was arrested in Goa after a woman colleague accused him of sexually assaulting her in a hotel in November 2013
- He is indicted of sexually assaulting a junior woman colleague inside a lift at Hotel Grand Hyatt during an event organised by the Tehelka magazine in Goa on November 7
- It happened during the magazine’s THiNK Fest conference 2013 festival in Goa
- A day later, Tejpal allegedly assaulted the same colleague in the hotel lift again.
- Ten days later, the journalist writes an email to the managing editor Shoma Chaudhary on November 18, 2013
- On November 22, the Goa Police files a formal FIR in the case
- On November 25, the victim, who had filed a complaint with the organisation, resigns from the magazine stating that she has been deeply traumatised and that nobody from the magazine has stood by her
- Tarun Tejpal, who was also the editor of Tehelka, soon resigned as well
- On November 30, after a series of emails between the woman, Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury was leaked, the senior editor was arrested
Charges filed against Tarun Tejpal:
- Tejpal, has been charged and booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code
- The charges against him are 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354-A (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment), 354-b (assault or use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe), 341 and 342 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 376 (rape), 376C (sexual intercourse by person in authority), 376(2)(f) (person in position of trust or authority over women, committing rape of such women) and 376(2) (k) (rape of a woman by a person being in position of control or dominance over the woman).
- Initially, he was booked under 354-A, 376, 376(2)(k) IPC by the Crime Branch. Sections 341 and 342, 376 (2)(f), 376C and 354 were added later.
- On February 17, 2014, Goa Police’s Crime Branch had filed the charge sheet in the case
- On 18 February 2014, Tejpal was charged with rape, sexual harassment and outraging the modesty of his colleague, as per reports.
- On July 1, 2014, the apex court bench of Justice HL Dattu and Justice SA Bobde granted bail to Tejpal
- The Supreme Court also gave liberty to the Goa government to approach the apex court in case of any attempt by Tejpal to infringe the witnesses
- On 15 Jan 2015, the SC acceded to the request of the Goa lower court judge seeking more time to wrap up the trial in the sexual assault case involving Tejpal as an accused
- On Jan 17, 2015, the Supreme Court had stayed the trial against Tejpal in connection with his alleged role in a sexual assault case for a period of three weeks
- The police said the CCTV footage from the hotel had authenticated the survivor's claims. Their charge sheet, filed in a fast-track court, mentioned Tarun Tejpal had assaulted the woman twice
- In an apology e-mailed to the woman, he had referred to a "shameful lapse of judgement that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on 7th and 8th Nov 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me"
- A bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra took note of the letter from the trial judge. The SC ordered the proceedings to be concluded within a year
Updates in 2017:
- In June 2017 the Goa's Court restricted the media from reporting any proceedings of the rape case accused. The court passed the order under 327 (3) barring the media from covering the proceedings until completion of the trial
- The journalist, who is out on bail, had requested the session court under CRPC Section 327(2), to hold the rape proceedings against him in-camera. Agreeing to his plea, the session court had some time back granted his request
- Tejpal’s lawyers had also filed an application under section 327 (3) of Criminal Procedure Code (which provides for in-camera trial of rape cases) seeking to bar the media from covering the trial.
- In June 2017 the prosecution asked for an additional IPC section of 354-B
- On Sep 8, 2017, a session’s court in north Goa’s Mapusa town said 54-year-old Journalist Tarun Tejpal will be tried on charges of raping and sexually harassing a junior colleague
- On Sep 28, 2017, Tejpal will stand trial once the charges are officially framed at 2.30 pm
- Tejpal faces 10 years to life imprisonment if found guilty at additional district sessions court at Mapusa in Goa
- This is the first case in recent times in which the probe has relied on “position of trust” as a crucial aspect in an allegation of rape. The victim’s statement that she trusted her employer was emphasised in the charge sheet and in all the arguments over last three years.
- Charges against Tejpal might be dropped, only if there is no evidence.