The High Court of Bombay at Goa on Tuesday reserved its order on a petition by former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal, seeking quashing of rape and other charges against him. He told the court that during a hearing of his plea seeking the quashing of rape charges framed by a lower court against him, his statements of apology days after the incident in 2013 were “sought on demand” and drafted by Shoma Chaudhury, his colleague at the time.
“It was like a charter of demands… and he was just given a draft and asked to sign,” said senior counsel Aman Lekhi, who appeared for Tejpal at the hearing Tuesday. The apology was treated as a confession statement by Goa police investigating charges of rape leveled by a former colleague against Tejpal during an event at the Grand Hyatt in Panaji in November 2013.
Tejpal was charged by a district court in Mapusa under IPC sections 354-A (sexual harassment), 376 (rape), 376(2)(k) (rape of a woman by a person being in position of control or dominance over the woman). Police later added charges under IPC sections 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2) (f) (person in position of trust or authority over women, committing rape of such women), 376 C (sexual intercourse by person in authority) and section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).
Here’s a timeline of the Tarun Tejpal’s case:
December 12, 2017: Bombay High Court reserves order on Tejpal’s plea seeking quashing of rape, other charges. Tejpal tells the High Court of Bombay in Goa that during a hearing of his plea seeking the quashing of rape charges framed by a lower court against him, his statements of apology days after the incident in 2013 were “sought on demand” and drafted by Shoma Chaudhury, his colleague at the time. “It was like a charter of demands… and he was just given a draft and asked to sign,” claimed senior counsel Aman Lekhi, who appeared for Tejpal at the hearing.
December 7, 2017: The Apex court tells Goa bench to record evidence in Tejpal case.
December 6, 2017: Supreme Court asks Goa court to begin trial in the case.
September 28, 2017: Tejpal formally charged with rape and wrongful confinement by a Goa trial court.
September 26, 2017: Bombay HC refused to stay framing of charges against Tejpal.
July 1, 2014: The Supreme Court granted bail to Tejpal and observed that the former editor had spent six months in jail since his arrest on November 30, 2013. The apex court maintained that there was no need for Tejpal’ continued incarceration as a charge sheet was filed on February 17.
June 16, 2017: A sessions court accepted Tejpal’s request to hold the rape proceedings in-camera and barred media from covering it.
February 17, 2014: A charge sheet was filed against Tejpal by the Goa crime branch. The charge sheet reproduced Tejpal’s “formal apology e-mail” written to the woman and Tehelka’s then managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, in which he says, “…I apologise unconditionally for the shameful lapse of judgment that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on 7 November and 8 November 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me”. In the “Atonement” email, Tejpal wrote to Chaudhury, “The last days have been most testing and I squarely take the blame for this. A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for.”
November 30, 2013: A sessions court denied anticipatory bail to Tejpal, stating that his case lacked merit. He was subsequently arrested and lodged at Sada sub-jail.
November 23, 2013: Two days later, Goa police lodged an FIR against Tejpal in a case of rape and outrage of modesty after being accused by a junior colleague of sexually assaulting her while they were in the state to attend a conference organised by the publication.
November 21, 2013: Goa police launched the investigation into the alleged sexual assault by Tejpal.
November 20, 2013: Tejpal stepped down as the editor-in-chief of Tehelka in the wake of sexual assault allegations.
November 7, 2013: Tarun Tejpal, the then-Tehelka editor, allegedly sexually assaulted a female employee inside the elevator of a five-star hotel in Goa.