The District and Sessions Court at Mapusa in North Goa on Friday acquitted journalist Tarun Tejpal in a 2013 rape case. The former Tehelka editor-in-chief,Tarun Tejpal was accused of sexually assaulting a colleague in 2013 on the sidelines of a conference at a five-star resort in Goa. After eight years, Tarun Tejpal, who is out on bail, was acquitted of all charges in the alleged sexual assault case against him.
In 2017, the trial court had charged him with rape, sexual harassment, and wrongful confinement. Tarun Tejpal challenged the charges in the Supreme Court, which had ordered the trial in Goa to continue.
Tarun Tejpal’s daughter Cara Tejpal read out a statement on her father’s behalf, which said he was “falsely accused” of sexual assault. “It is with profound respect that I thank this court for its rigorous, impartial and fair trial and for its thorough examination of CCTV footage and other empirical material on record,” said Mr Tejpal, thanking his lawyer Rajiv Gomes, who died of Covid.
He also said: “The past seven -an-a-half years have been traumatic for my family as we have dealt with the catastrophic fallout of these false allegations on every aspect of our personal, professional and public lives.”
The Goa Police registered an FIR against Tarun Tejpal in November 2013 following which he was arrested. Tarun Tejpal has been out on bail since May 2014. The Goa crime branch had filed a charge sheet against Tarun Tejpal.
He faced trial under IPC sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty), 354-A (sexual harassment), 354-B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 376(2)(f) (person in position of authority over women, committing rape) and 376(2)k) (rape by person in position of control).
In September 2017, a trial court in Goa charged him under Sections 376(2) (rape), 354A (sexual harassment) and 342 (wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In 2019, the Supreme Court quashed a plea filed by Tarun Tejpal and asked a Goa court to finish the trial within six months.
The additional district court was to pronounce the verdict on April 27, but judge Kshama Joshi had then adjourned the verdict to May 12. It was postponed again till May 19 and then on May 21. On Friday, Tarun Tejpal was acquitted of all charges in the rape case.
The sessions court in Goa was to declare its verdict on Wednesday but could not, citing “power failure” due to Cyclone Tauktae.
The verdict was previously delayed over various reasons including the coronavirus crisis.
The Tehelka allegations broke out when a series of emails in which the woman complained to her seniors at Tehelka and their response were leaked.Mr Tejpal stepped down as Tehelka Editor soon after, saying he was “recusing” himself for six months. He was arrested on in November 2013. He has been out on bail since May 2014.
In a 2,684-page chargesheet filed before the Goa fast-track court, the police had said there was enough evidence against him.Mr Tejpal had maintained that CCTV footage absolved him and had approached the Supreme Court after the Bombay High Court in 2017 dismissed his request to scrap the case.