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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tarun Tejpal case: HC to hear on Feb 4 victim’s plea on ‘scandalous questions put to her’

On Thursday, the High Court asked the Mapusa fast-track court to not cross-examine the victim till the petition is heard and resolved.

By: Express News Service | Panjim | Published: January 16, 2020 6:05:14 pm
Tarun Tejpal, Tarun Tejpal case, Tarun Tejpal case latest news, Tarun Tejpal rape case, Goa High Court, Goa High Court news, Tarun Tejpal trial, indian express, Tarun Tejpal case victim Tejpal has been charged with rape and rape of a woman by a person being in a position of control or dominance over the woman, along with under other Sections. (Photo: Express/file)

The High Court of Bombay at Goa will hear the petition filed by the victim in the Tarun Tejpal rape case in-camera on February 4.

On Thursday, the High Court asked the Mapusa fast-track court to defer the cross-examination of the victim till the petition is heard and resolved. The lower court can continue with chief examination of other pending witnesses.

The victim has approached the HC alleging “scandalous” and “irrelevant questions” being asked during cross examination by Tejpal’s lawyers in the Mapusa trial court. The public prosecutor has told the HC the questions are “in contravention to law”, and has appealed that only “relevant questions be asked”.

Senior counsel Vijay Hiremath, appearing for the victim, told the HC: “Questions put to the victim during the trial in the lower court should be discussed in chamber as they are scandalous in nature.”

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Amit Desai, senior counsel for Tejpal, raised “if the petition fits the law of maintainability.” He said on February 4, while responding to the petition, he will also argue on the law of maintainability.

Justice Nutan Sardesai has now kept the matter for February 4, while also allowing the petition to be amended after the victim’s side made an appeal.

Countering Desai, Hiremath said, “My lady, this Court has wide powers. A very grave injustice is happening in the lower court during trial, which is why I have come to the higher courts. Each and every day I am being asked humiliating questions. I want to show the questions asked in lower court in chambers. Everything will be clear once it’s read.”

The HC permitted the petitioner to amend the petition within a week after they made a plea. Justice Sardesai further gave the defence the liberty to respond or file an objection to any additions made in the petition.

“I can visualise the merits of the matter may be discussed on the next date, because law is not in their favour,” Desai told the court. “This is not the right forum to discuss if the evidence are appropriate.”

Hiremath also pointed to the need of a screen citing Sakshi guidelines, when the victim comes next for her cross-examination early in February. It was informed to the court that “the need was primarily to protect her”. “Further, I do not know why the accused wants to see the victim?” Hiremath said.

Sakshi guidelines are a set of rules on conduct during a rape trial, framed in 2004 following a PIL by a NGO called Sakshi, fighting the cause of sexually abused children and adults.

Till date, the victim has faced examination-in-chief on March 15 and March 16 2018, and on October 21, 2019. She has been cross-examined on October 21 and 22, 2019, November 11, 12, 13, 14 and 27 and 28, 2019, and December 17 to December 21, 2019 before the Additional Sessions Judge.

Tejpal has been charged 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), 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).

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