Tarun Tejpal, the infamous editor-in-chief and founder of sensationalist magazine Tehelka on Friday was acquitted by the District and Sessions Court of Goa in a 2013 rape case. Tejpal was accused of sexually assaulting a colleague on the sidelines of a conference that he was hosting at a five-star resort in Goa.
The Goa Police had subsequently registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Tejpal for various offences, including rape. He was arrested in November 2013 and later released on bail in July 2014.
It is imperative to note that Tejpal was charged 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).
In 2017, the trial court had charged him with rape, sexual harassment and wrongful confinement. However, Tarun Tejpal challenged the charges in the Supreme Court, which had ordered the trial in Goa to continue.
Tejpal has been let go by the Sessions court despite some damning evidence against him which includes an admission of guilt from Tejpal himself when he wrote an apology letter to the victim.
In November 2013, few days after the sexual assault, the victim complained to Tehelka’s then managing editor, Shoma Chaudhry. Most certainly at the behest of Shoma — to mitigate the damage, the very next day, Tejpal sent a long email as a formal apology to the victim in which he said,
“I apologise unconditionally for the shameful lapse of judgement that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on November 7 and November 8 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me.”
What must be the logic given in judgment to acquit Tejpal after this full apology from him, provided in evidence: pic.twitter.com/SuLUlj6FjE
— Vinod K. Jose (@vinodjose) May 21, 2021
The victim, however, insisted that an anti-sexual harassment cell must be set up under the Vishakha guidelines to investigate the matter. According to her, “Given that his apology presents an entirely different version from my testimony, ie. attempts to establish that a “sexual liaison” took place as opposed to him sexually molesting me, I insist once again in the spirit of justice, to constitute an anti-sexual harassment cell in accordance with Vishakha Guidelines.”
Immediately after being acquitted, Tejpal issued a statement thanking his legion of high profile lawyers that includes the likes of Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid.
“In these 8 years a host of outstanding lawyers came to our aid, and we owe them all a deep debt, prime among them Pramod Dubey, Aamir Khan, Ankur Chawla, Amit Desai, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Aman Lekhi, Sandeep Kapoor, Raian Karanjewala, and Shrikant Shivade.”
— Rishi Bagree 🇮🇳 (@rishibagree) November 6, 2017
However, his statement letter has created another fresh bout of controversy as netizens were speculating that the document was readied by Tarun Tajpal’s legal team on May 19th itself, two days prior to the announcement of the verdict.
Look closely at this.
— Supriya Sharma (@sharmasupriya) May 21, 2021
Tarun Tejpal is well known for his far-left credentials and it seems like the cabal has helped him get out of the mess by pooling all its resources and using it for the acquittal. The acquittal of Tejpal simply shows that justice in India is a rare commodity and despite spending years looking for it, the victim(s) more often than not are left disappointed and anguished.