The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court will today hear virtually the Goa government's appeal against journalist Tarun Tejpal's acquittal in a 2013 rape case.
A bench comprising of Justices M S Sonak and M S Jawalkar had adjourned the matter till 27 October after Goa's Advocate General Devidas Pangam and a Tarun Tejpal's lawyer had asked for another date of hearing.
The development came as Tejpal opposed the Goa government's plea challenging his acquittal in the case, and also requested an ‘in-camera’ hearing to keep the court proceedings private.
In 2013, the former Tehelka editor-in-chief had been accused for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel elevator.
Tejpal had been arrested and accused of committing offences under IPC Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354B (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).
Years later, on 21 May 2021, the Goa court acquitted Tarun Tejpal of all charges. The court said that Tarun Tejpal was given the benefit of the doubt because the material evidence, complainant's deposition and "change of versions" did not "inspire confidence" of the court.
On his acquittal, Tarun Tejpal in a statement had said, "It is with profound respect that I thank this court for its rigorous, impartial and fair trial and for its thorough examination of the CCTV footage and other empirical material on record. In November 2013, I was accused of sexual assault by a colleague. Today, the sessions court acquitted me. In all these years, several lawyers came to our aid and we owe them all a debt."
Reading out a statement on behalf of her father, Tarun Tejpal's daughter, Cara, said, "The past seven and 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 public, professional and personal lives."
Goa appeals the acquittal
Soon after the verdict had been announced, Goa prosecutors said the state would be appealing the verdict in the high court “for sure”.
In May, the Goa government filed an appeal against the order in the high court.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had said his government would file an appeal against Tejpal's acquittal in the high court as it was confident that there was evidence against the journalist.
According to a PTI report, the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court had observed that the sessions court's judgment acquitting journalist Tarun Tejpal was like a "manual for rape victims" as it goes into how a victim should respond in such cases.
With inputs from agencies