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March 15, 2018

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SLP FILED IN SC, EVIDENCE SUPPRESSED ABSOLVES TARUN TEJPAL CLAIMS DEFENCE


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taruntejpal

In a twist to the case where the Former Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka Magazine is facing charges of having sexually assaulted a junior colleague in 2013, the petition filed in the Apex Court is claimed to challenge Tejpal’s very prosecution

Back in November 2013, a junior colleague of journalist and then Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka Magazine, Tarun Tejpal, alleged that he sexually assaulted her in the elevator of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Goa, on two occasions i.e. 7 November and 8 November, 2013, during the time Tehelka Magazine was hosting its annual international event, the THiNK Festival, in Goa. The allegations rocked the nation even as Tejpal stepped down as Editor-in- Chief of the magazine before being arrested in November 2013 on charges of rape and outraging the modesty of a woman. He remained in police and judicial custody for six months before being granted bail by the Supreme Court in July 2014. In December 2017, the Bombay High Court, by its order dismissed Tejpal’s plea for quashing of rape and other charges against him. Tejpal has challenged the Bombay High Court’s order in the Supreme Court.

According to reliable sources, Tejpal’s Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed in the Supreme Court – the focus of which is the CCTV footage and an independent witness’s version – brings to the fore disconcerting details pertaining to the case. According to these sources, the SLP obliterates all of the Prosecutrix’s allegations, and may prove each and every part of her statement given on oath to the Ld. Magistrate as untrue. This in turn may raise question marks about the practice of recording statements before the Magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

To reiterate, a case was registered against Tejpal on 22 November, 2013, claiming that he sexually assaulted a junior colleague in an elevator of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Goa, on 7 November and 8 November, 2013, during the Think Festival being hosted by Tehelka Magazine. However, these sources who have seen the CCTV footage filed in the Apex Court as part of the SLP say that it lays bare several fallacies and incongruities in the Prosecutrix’s statements, and invalidates what the public has come to believe as the facts of the case. It is learned that Tejpal has submitted a chart along with the SLP to demonstrate how the Prosecutrix lied to her colleagues, the Investigating Officer, and the Magistrate.

The Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed in the Supreme Court – the focus of which is the CCTV footage and an independent witness’s version – brings to the fore disconcerting details pertaining to the case. The Prosecutrix never filed a criminal complaint; it was filed by the investigating officer to herself

The CCTV footage exhibits no signs of any untoward incident having taken place, as against the Prosecutrix’s claims that Tejpal dragged and physically manhandled her on both days of the alleged occurrence. Rather, at one point of the November 8 footage, the Prosecutrix is seen running into the elevator behind Tejpal around the same time she claims that he dragged and physically manhandled her. According to Tejpal’s lawyers, the footage supports his version of the facts and absolves him, showing the case against him to be fabricated. They are accordingly demanding that Tejpal be completely discharged on the basis of this footage and other important details exposed by the SLP.

According to informed sources, back in November 2013 when the availability of CCTV footage in the case was announced, Tejpal issued a press statement the very same day demanding public release of the footage before he had seen it.

Also according to them, the SLP stresses that the footage covering both days of the alleged incident is actually evidence produced by the Prosecution (Goa Police), and puts a question mark on the entire investigation. The SLP reveals that though the Goa police got the CCTV footage from the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Goa, in November 2013 itself, the same was released to the media, public and Tejpal’s lawyers only about a year-and-a-half later. It wasn’t until Tejpal’s lawyers approached the SC, demanding that this critical evidence be handed over to them that the footage was actually provided to them. The SLP positions the CCTV footage as the only primary and non-biased evidence in the case.

There are other disconcerting facts as well like excluding a couple of key witnesses; and lapses with regard to the Prosecutrix’s conduct which is quite the opposite of what is claimed.

Staggeringly, the SLP bears proof of claim by the Prosecutrix that she had a purported concurrent sexual liaison with an iconic Hollywood actor present at the festival as a Speaker. According to sources, the WhatsApp messages in the Prosecutrix’s own words sent to her friends topple her claims of being in a state of shock and anxiety during and after the days Tejpal allegedly sexually assaulted her.

Moreover, the SLP questions aspects of the investigation such as withholding proof and the fact that defence had to wait for more than three years to get access to all the evidence being used against Tejpal. The SLP draws attention to the fact that even after petitioning the highest court of the land, the defendant got only two of the three proofs i.e. the CCTV footage and the Prosecutrix’s phone data. The contents of her laptop were not provided.

According to the sources, the SLP raises the question whether the investigation into the Tejpal case was just and uncorrupted, or was driven by vested interests where important evidence was ignored by the Investigating Officer, who incidentally is also the complainant in the case. The sources disclose that the Prosecutrix never filed a criminal complaint; it was filed by the Investigating Officer to herself in her capacity as officer-in-charge of the police station, and later assigned to herself for the investigation.

 

Disclaimer – The views expressed here are solely those of the author. The content in the article is purely informative in nature.


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