A petition filed by journalist Tarun Tejpal to cancel the sexual assault case filed against him by a junior colleague has been rejected by the Supreme Court. “This is a serious and morally abhorrent offence,” the top court observed. The Supreme Court also ordered that the trial against Tarun Tejpal in a Goa court be completed within the next six months.
The trial was put on hold after Tarun Tejpal approached the Supreme Court after the Goa bench of the Mumbai high court declined to discharge him in the case. The former founder-editor of Tehelka was accused by a colleague of sexually assaulting her in an elevator of a five-star hotel during the magazine’s event in Goa in November 2013.
In September 2017, a court in north Goa’s Mapusa town framed charges against Tejpal for sexual assault, harassment, and wrongful restraint. Tejpal had promptly approach the high court for relief, pointing to the CCTV footage that he said, showed the survivor’s “normal conduct” after the incident was alleged to have taken place.
At the Supreme Court, Tarun Tejpal, among other points, contended that the charges were fabricated. The judges, however, observed during the court proceedings that the allegations levelled against him were serious in nature, and also wondered if the charges were fabricated as Tejpal contended, why Tejpal apologised to the woman in an email after the alleged incident.
“If nothing had happened, you would not have sent apologies. Something inappropriate must have happened,” remarked justice Mishra, who heads the bench during the hearings.
Tarun Tejpal’s lawyers had urged the court to view the CCTV footage of the hotel lobby to verify the sequence of events but the bench was unwilling to go into the evidence in this case.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Goa Police in this matter, countered Tarun Tejpal’s contentions. “The trial is yet to take place. There are ample materials in the form of contemporaneous emails,” said Mehta.