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Tehelka case: Tarun Tejpal could face IPC provisions that attract 10 yrs in prison

Tarun Tejpal could be booked for alleged offences ranging from criminal intimidation,sexual assault to rape.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi |
Updated: February 6, 2014 4:39:58 pm

Following the recent amendments to the IPC on violence against women and the enactment of the law against sexual harassment in the workplace,Tehelka Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal could be booked for alleged offences ranging from criminal intimidation,sexual assault by use of criminal force up to rape by a person in position of trust and authority.

This is what legal experts say when told about the nature of the offences and threats alleged in the complaint against Tejpal by his younger colleague.

According to advocate Satish Tamta,who was Special Prosecutor in the Batla encounter case,Tejpal,because he is in a “position of trust and authority,” could be booked under Section 376 2 (f) and because he can also exert “dominance and control,” could face Section 376 (2) (k). Both these sub-clauses carry a minimum of 10 years imprisonment – instead of the seven-year sentence for a less aggravated offence – and a maximum of life imprisonment.

“She is directly reporting to him and is at an official event. She is also taking instructions on what is to be done at the event and he is the head of the organisation. Therefore,she is under dominance and control of the accused,which is covered under Clause (2) of the section” said Tamta.

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Speaking to The Indian Express,senior advocate and former High Court judge Neeraj Kishan Kaul,said that while he could not comment on the Tehelka matter,”a whole host of provisions” of the IPC and the sexual harassment would be attracted by the allegations.

“The issue right now is not of the exact legal provisions or jurisdiction. The issue is that the magazine should have constituted a sexual harassment complaints committee and taken proper action. The police should also take immediate cognizance and start an inquiry even if an FIR has not been filed because it is a grave cognizable offence,” Kaul said.

As for police action in the case given that the alleged victim hasn’t filed a police complaint yet,a senior prosecutor who did not wish to be named,said that the police could begin an inquiry based on credible media reports although an FIR would require a formal complaint. And according to a recent SC judgment,the police are duty bound to register an FIR in a cognizable offence.

Lawyers also raised questions over the manner in which the complaint was handled by the magazine. “A person cannot be a judge in his own case and decide what to do,” said Kaul. “In a case as grave as this,merely resigning for a short period cannot be the end of the matter. A proper committee should have been constituted,then it should have taken action according to procedure and directed the police to register an FIR,” said Kaul.

Senior advocate N Hariharan questioned the conduct of Tehelka Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury. “Why was there no police complaint made even when a young employee had given complaint of such a serious offence? If Chaudhury did not have the authority to take action on the complaint then she was duty bound to involve the police,” said Hariharan.

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