Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a junior colleague, is likely to be chargesheeted for all offences that he has been booked for, including for rape under the new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, in a 2,900-page chargesheet set to be filed by the Goa Police on Monday.
Arrested on November 30, 2013, Tejpal is currently in judicial custody. He has been booked under IPC Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354-A (sexual harassment and outraging the modesty of a woman) and 376 (rape), and under various sections of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 including 376 (2) (k) (rape by a person in a position of control or dominance over a woman) and 376 (2) (f) (rape by a relative or guardian or a person in a position of trust or authority, and rape by a person in a fiduciary position).
The chargesheet has taken cognizance of the victim’s statement and Tejpal’s apology letter to her as the primary evidence, along with emails between the victim and the Tehelka management. Divided into 12 volumes, it has over 400 pages on the CCTV footage obtained from the premises of the hotel where the victim was allegedly assaulted.
While the hotel did not have any CCTV cameras in the lift, where the incident allegedly took place, the police are basing their investigation on footage recovered from the other cameras in which the victim and accused are seen, said officials.
The footage and the cameras were sent to a laboratory in Hyderabad for analysis. According to officials, the CCTV footage shows the victim hurriedly walking out of the lift, with Tejpal following her. Sources said the chargesheet will claim that the footage shows her walking away in fear.
The chargesheet, to be filed before the Judicial Magistrate First Class Court, includes statements of “direct” witnesses like Tehelka employees and friends of the victim in whom she reportedly confided after the alleged assault. It also has the statement of Shoma Chaudhury, the then managing editor of the magazine.
The investigating team travelled to New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore to take the statements of the victim’s family and friends. A few witnesses who attended the Thinkfest, where the incident reportedly took place, have also given their statements.
The police also took the help of forensic laborataries in Mumbai to decode the trail of emails exchanged between the victim, Tejpal and the Tehelka management. The bulk of the chargesheet is focussed on listing the circumstantial evidence against Tejpal, based on phone call recordings and SMSes between him, the victim and the Tehelka management.
The statements of transport and support staff have been taken to track the movements of the victim and the accused during the Thinkfest. Tejpal’s potency test report has also been included in the chargesheet.
Officials said the challenge before the investigating team was to establish the case based on circumstantial evidence and the communication between the victim and the accused, under the new Act. The team spent over 40 days collecting statements of various people to build a case.
Meanwhile, Tejpal’s lawyers have sought the Goa High Court’s permission for him to attend his bail hearing on Tuesday. The application is expected to be heard on Monday morning.