A Goa court on Thursday framed rape charges against Tarun Tejpal, the founder of Tehelka magazine, in connection with an alleged rape case filed against him in 2013. Tejpal faces a minimum 10-year jail term if he is found guilty of rape.
Additional district sessions judge in Mapusa, Vijaya Pol, framed charges against Tejpal under IPC sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 354 A (sexual harassment) and B (criminal assault with intent to disrobe a woman), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement), public prosecutor Fransisco Tavora said.
Tejpal (54) pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. The next hearing in the case in the district court has been fixed on November 21. Advocate Rajiv Gomes, representing Tejpal, had pleaded before the Mapusa court in Goa to put the trial on hold as a petition challenging the framing of charges is already pending before the Bombay High Court.
The judge rejected the plea and allowed charges to be framed against Tejpal. Advocate Rajiv Gomes said, “The trial has been deferred by the high court, which has issued a notice to the state government, and the case would be heard on November 1.” Earlier this week, the Bombay High Court at Goa had refused to stay the framing of charges against him, while issuing notice to the state government. The high court had, however, restrained the district court from examining the evidence in this case.
The former Tehelka editor is alleged to have sexually assaulted a former colleague inside the elevator of a five-star hotel in Goa in 2013. The woman had complained to the Tehelka management and a series of leaked emails between her, Tejpal and the magazine’s then managing editor Shoma Chaudhary, were published by media. Based on the media reports, the Goa police began an investigation. Subsequently, Tejpal was arrested on November 30, 2013 by the Crime Branch after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the court. He has been out on bail since May 2014.
Enough proof against Tejpal
In a 2,684-page chargesheet filed before the Goa fast-track court, the police said that Tarun Tejpal assaulted the woman twice and that there is enough evidence to prove the charges against Tejpal.