Arrest, Apology & Acquittal: How Tarun Tejpal’s Rape Case Unfolded
Here’s how the seven-year-old rape and sexual harassment case unfolded.
Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
(Trigger warning: Descriptions of rape/sexual assault as reflected in the judicial record. This article was first published on 21 May. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives in light of the Bombay HC’s hearing of the Goa government’s appeal against the acquittal.)
A Goa trial court on Friday, 21 May, acquitted former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal, who was accused of raping and sexually assaulting a former colleague in 2013.
He was booked under IPC Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (sexual harassment), 354A(1)(I)(II) (demand for sexual favours), 354B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 376 (2)(f) (person in a position of authority over women, committing rape) and 376(2)(k) (rape by a person in a position of control). He denied all the charges and pleaded not guilty.
Once a prominent journalist, Tejpal launched the Tehelka magazine in 2000, after having worked with different newspapers and magazines. Tejpal also set up the publishing house India Ink and has authored three novels.
Tejpal’s case was one of the most talked about in recent times – with the incident allegedly taking place just a year after the brutal gang rape and murder of a woman in Delhi in December 2012.
Here’s how the seven-year-old case unfolded.
From Allegations to Arrest
7 November 2013: A young female colleague accuses Tarun Tejpal of assaulting her inside an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa.
20 November 2013: Tejpal steps down as the editor-in-chief of Tehelka in the wake of sexual assault allegations.
23 November 2013: The Goa Police files an FIR against Tejpal, based on the woman’s complaint.
30 November 2013: Tejpal is arrested by the Goa Police Crime Branch after his anticipatory bail is rejected by a court.
Charge Sheet Produces ‘Apology’
17 February 2014: Goa Crime Branch files charge sheet running into 2,846 pages. The entire document was divided into 12 volumes with statements of 152 witnesses.
The charge sheet had produced Tejpal’s “formal apology e-mail” written to the then managing editor of Tehelka Shoma Chaudhury.
In the email, Tejpal says: “…I apologise unconditionally for the shameful lapse of judgement that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on 7 November and 8 November 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me”.
The subject line of the email, which said “Atonement”, added:
“The last days have been most testing and I squarely take the blame for this. A bad lapse of judgement, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for.”
1 July 2014: The Supreme Court grants bail to the former Tehelka editor-in-chief. It observes that the former editor had spent six months in jail since his arrest on 30 November and that there was no need for Tejpal’s continued imprisonment.
17 January 2015: The Supreme Court stays the trial against Tejpal in connection with his alleged role in a sexual assault case for a period of three weeks.
The police submits that the CCTV footage from the hotel authenticated the survivor’s claims. As per their charge sheet, Tejpal had assaulted the woman twice.
The SC orders the proceedings to be concluded within a year.
Restricted Media Coverage of the Case
June 2017: The Goa's Court restricts the media from reporting any proceedings of the rape case accused. The court passes the order under 327 (3) barring the media from covering the proceedings until completion of the trial.
16 June, 2017: The Goa Court accepts Tejpal’s plea to conduct the trial in-camera.
26 September, 2017: Tejpal makes the plea against the framing of charges in the High Court of Bombay in Goa. But the high court refuses to stay the framing of charges.
28 September, 2017: Sessions court frames rape and sexual harassment charges against Tejpal.
March 2018: The alleged survivor is prosecuted by Tejpal’s lawyers.
Trial on Hold Due to Pandemic
9 August 2019: Tejpal moves SC seeking to quash the FIR filed against him, claiming that he was ‘framed'. The SC rejectes the plea and asks the trial court to complete trial in six months.
October 2019: Trial commences again.
March 2020 to September 2020: Trial is put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
28 October 2020: The SC askes the court to complete the trial by 31 March 2021
January 2021: Goa Police says that they want to examine 10 more witnesses and submit an additional charge sheet.
March 2021: Arguments conclude. Verdict is said to be pronounced on 27 April.
April-May 2021: Judgment is deferred due to impact of COVID-19.
19 May 2021: Judgment is deferred again to 21 May, citing power outage due to Cyclone Tauktae.
21 May 2021: Goa Court acquits Tarun Tejpal of all charges.
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