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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Challenge of acquittal in sexual assault case: Tejpal seeks in-camera hearing; Govt says people have right to know how woman dealt with by court

Tejpal’s counsel Amit Desai told the court that the proceedings in the case before the trial court as well as earlier proceedings before the High Court were also held in-camera.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
Updated: August 11, 2021 11:51:57 am
Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal

Acquitted by a sessions court in a 2013 case of rape and sexual assault, former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal on Tuesday filed an application before the High Court of Bombay at Goa, seeking an in-camera hearing of the proceedings in the appeal filed by the state government against his acquittal.

Tejpal’s counsel Amit Desai told the court that the proceedings in the case before the trial court as well as earlier proceedings before the High Court were also held in-camera. He said that according to CrPC Section 327, the case should be heard in-camera on account of its nature and sensitivity, not allowing anyone other than the parties and their lawyers to attend the proceedings and prohibiting printing or publishing anything related to the proceedings.

His application stated that the proceedings be conducted in-camera “so as to obviate any prejudice either to the “prosecutrix (the woman) or the present respondent (Tejpal) as the adjudication of the present matter shall also entail reading of evidence read before the Ld trial court”.

Arguing for the state government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, however, said, “The country has the right to know how the court dealt with this girl who came with a complaint, precise facts, corroborative evidence.”

“The way our institution has failed, leaving an inevitable impression on all victims of sexual violence, and onslaught, that it has a deterrent effect on potential victims. They might not come before the court,” Mehta said, adding that he would have to go through Tejpal’s application and respond.

Desai, however, said that Mehta, who appears in courts across India, should not point a finger at the judiciary only because the Goa government did not like the outcome of the trial court’s judgment. He added that he would like to argue against the legal maintainability of the application filed by the Goa government seeking leave to appeal against the trial court’s May 21 judgment acquitting Tejpal of all charges.

The Bombay High Court and its benches are expected to start physical court hearings next week. Both Mehta and Desai urged the bench of Justice Sunil P Deshmukh and Justice M S Sonak to hear the case virtually so they may both be able to appear in the case. The bench, however, asked them to approach the Chief Justice with a joint application and adjourned the case till August 31.

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