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Tarun Tejpal Case: HC Issues Notice in Appeal Against Acquittal

Tejpal, who was accused of raping a junior colleague in an elevator in 2013, was acquitted of all charges on 21 May.

Published
Gender
2 min read
Former Tehelka Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal.
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The Bombay High Court on Wednesday, 2 June, issued a notice to former Tehelka Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal in the appeal challenging his acquittal in the rape-and-sexual assault case against his former colleague at the magazine. The notice is returnable on 24 June, when the matter will be heard next.

Appearing for the Goa government, which moved the appeal against the trial court order, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the judgment ‘lacked complete sensitivity’ for crimes against women, reported Bar and Bench.

Mehta added that the order made insensitive remarks on the intelligence and knowledge of the victim and set a bad precedent by commenting on ‘how a victim of sexual assault must behave’.

“This judgment and its approach lacks complete sensitivity in dealing with crimes against women... The judgment also ‘defines’ the conduct of the victim and her past sexual conduct. This is one example. The judgment is replete with examples,” Mehta submitted.

Hearing the appeal, Justice SC Gupte commented that the verdict appeared to be a manual for a rape victim and observed that there was a prima facie case made to grant leave to hear the appeal.

He also called for records and proceedings of the sessions court as the verdict merely had observations on the evidence, reported Bar and Bench.

Background

Tejpal, who was accused of raping a junior colleague in an elevator in 2013, was acquitted of all charges on 21 May.

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.

On 25 May, the Goa government moved the Bombay High Court against the acquittal of the journalist. Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi, in the 537-page judgment, wrote:

“It is extremely revealing that the prosecutrix’s (victim’s) account neither demonstrates any kind of normative behaviour on her own part – that a prosecutrix of sexual assault on consecutive two nights might plausibly display – nor does it show any such behaviour on the part of the accused.”

The trial took almost eight years to conclude, with the woman being cross-examined only in 2019, almost six years after the incident.

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