Bombay HC reserves order on Tejpal's plea seeking quashing of rape, other charges
The High Court of Bombay at Goa Tuesday reserved its order on a petition by former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal, seeking quashing of rape and other charges against him. Justice Nutan Sardesai reserved the order without specifying the date.
Tejpal, who is accused of raping a former colleague during an event in Goa in 2013, today presented before the high court the CCTV footage outside the lift of a five-starhotel, where he is alleged to have sexually assaulted her. Senior advocate Aman Lekhi and advocate Pramodkumar Dubey, who represented Tejpal, displayed the CCTV footage to the judge on a laptop to support his contention that he has been falsely accused of a rape, outraging modesty and sexual harassment by Goa police.
"The CCTV footage shows that the petitioner and the prosecutrix (victim) were out of the lift walking leisurely not indicating any sign of distress or outrage," Lekhi said while providing the footage which was sourced from the Goa Crime Branch, which has filed a charge sheeted against the Delhi-based journalist. Tejpal has been charged by the district court in Mapusa town under 354-A (sexual harassment), 376 (rape), 376(2)(k) IPC (rape of a woman by a person being in position of control or dominance over the woman) by the crime branch.
The crime branch later added IPC sections 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2) (f) (person in position of trust or authority over women, committing rape of such women), 376 C (sexual intercourse by person in authority) and section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty). Lekhi argued that the charges were framed by the lower court without considering the material evidence on record, "which shows that the prosecutrix was not restrained, confined or her modesty was outraged by the applicant (Tejpal)".
He pointed out that after the alleged incident, the prosecutrix had accompanied Tejpal in the same lift for the second time next day without showing any sign of distress. The lawyer also claimed that the investigating officer in the case had failed to examine several crucial witnesses, which were named by the prosecutrix in her statement.
The investigating officer had also withheld the CCTV footage from the applicant, who had to obtain it through the order by the Supreme Court, Lekhi said. Public prosecutor Saresh Lotlikar said the trial court (district court) has come to the conclusion that "primary case" has been made out as the charges are already framed.
He said the charges against the accused should not be dismissed without a trial in the case. Lotlikar said that the statement of the accused that she was raped and the CCTV footage showing her conduct otherwise, would get the clarity only when she is examined in the witness box.