Seventy nine days after arresting Tarun Tejpal, the Goa Police Crime Branch filed the chargesheet in the court of the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Panaji, on Monday, accusing the former editor of Tehelka of rape under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, and several sections of the IPC.
Tejpal, who is currently in Sada Jail, Goa, was chargesheeted under all the seven sections for which he has been booked: 354 [molestation], 354-A [sexual harassment and outraging the modesty of a woman], 341 [wrongful restraint], 342 [wrongful confinement], 376 [rape] and 376(2)(f) [rape by a person in a position of control or dominance over a woman] of the IPC; and 376(2)(k) [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] of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act.
Tejpal has been accused by a former junior colleague of assaulting her in a lift at the Grand Hyatt hotel, Bambolim, on two occasions on November 7 and 8, 2013, during the Thinkfest event. Investigators said this was the first time that charges had been brought anywhere in the country under the new section 376(2)(k).
While Tejpal’s admission — in an e-mail sent to the victim on November 19, and another, titled “Atonement”, sent to Tehelka’s then managing editor Shoma Chaudhury on November 20 — and the woman’s statement constitute the primary evidence against him, investigators have found a crucial bit of CCTV footage that appears to establish body language immediately after one of the alleged assaults.
This bit of video taken at 23:26:08 hrs on November 7 by a camera on the second floor of the hotel, shows, according to the chargesheet, that “…Tejpal and victim came out of the lift and then walked towards the staircase during which time accused is seen wiping his mouth with left hand and the victim adjusting and making her dress proper with her left hand”.
The chargesheet says, “…Tejpal and victim were in the lift of Guest House No. 7 for 129 seconds (2 minutes 9 seconds) as seen from the CCTV footage.”
Sources close to the investigation said this clip, along with one from November 8, corroborates the allegations made by the woman in her original e-mail and, later, in her statement to the magistrate.
About the November 8 clip, the chargesheet says, the “door of the lift opened and the victim hurriedly came out of the lift first appearing to be looking out for someone, followed by the accused” at 21:01:11 hrs, which matches the time given by the woman. On this occasion, Tejpal is accused of assaulting the woman for 14 seconds.
The chargesheet reproduces Tejpal’s “formal apology e-mail” written continued…