The Tarun Tejpal rape case, set to begin trial at the Panaji fast track court in April, is caught in controversy again, with details of the hotel’s CCTV feed being made public, violating conditions set by the court.
The Goa Police investigating team says it has taken cognizance of a report in the latest issue of Outlook magazine (‘The Tarun Tejpal tapes’) which refers to portions of the CCTV feed outside the lift at the hotel in Bambolim, showing movements of Tejpal and the victim before and after the alleged incident.
The report featured illustrations from purported scenes from the tapes and raised questions about the allegations. One of the illustrations, the magazine admitted on its website on Monday, “erroneously depicted” the victim holding Tejpal’s hand when the tapes showed “Tejpal is leading her by her hand”. The magazine said this was corrected online.
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, on his Facebook page, claimed over the weekend that he had “seen the CCTV footage” and “none of what the girl says about Tarun Tejpal is true”.
The CCTV footage, collected between November 7 and November 10, 2013, was made available to the defence and prosecution on February 19 by the chief judicial magistrate’s court on the condition that it not be made public before the trial.
O P Mishra, Deputy Inspector General, Goa Police, said, “These issues (the magazine report and Kashyap’s post) have come to the notice of the investigating officer who is seized of these developments. The same is being examined within the legal possibilities and will be projected at the right platform at the right time.”
Kashyap could not be reached for a comment.
An officer from the investigation team said, “A specific request was made by us that no portion of the footage should be made public as this would reveal the identity of the victim. This has been clearly overlooked and goes against the promise made to the court.”
Amit Desai, senior counsel for the defence, said, “Ordinarily the purpose of such an order is to protect the identity of the victim.
Consequently, so long as the identity is protected, there is no difficulty in viewing the underlying facts. In fact, the judgment of the high court records the underlying facts.”
In a letter to Outlook editor-in-chief Krishna Prasad on Monday, the victim’s stepmother, expressing her “anguish and disappointment”, wrote: “My stepdaughter has faced the most vicious character assassination campaign ever known in recent times… We see her every day and we know what a living hell her life has become… Perhaps this is exactly what every victim of sexual assault has to go through if and when she dares to stand up to her aggressor. Call her names, attribute false motives, give it a political colour and generally cloud the issue.”
Asked for a response, Krishna Prasad sent The Indian Express a text message saying, “The ‘Outlook’ cover story speaks for itself. It is not intended to interfere in any way in a matter currently before the honourable court. It is a balanced and nuanced journalistic exercise into a sensitive story and represents all points of view, including that of the Prosecution.”