The Supreme Court Monday dismissed a plea by Tehelka magazine founder Tarun Tejpal seeking quashing of sexual harassment charges against him. The court has further directed Goa’s lower court to complete the trial preferably within six months, reported PTI.
Dismissing Tejpal’s plea, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra observed that this is a “serious and morally abhorrent offence”, and took note of the delay in concluding the trial.
Tejpal is facing charges of sexually assaulting a junior colleague inside a lift at a five-star hotel in Goa during an event in 2013. He was arrested on November 30, 2013 by the crime branch after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the court, and has been out on bail since May 2014. The apex court last week had reserved its order on the plea seeking quashes of charges against him.
Senior counsel Vikas Singh, appearing for Tejpal has argued that the charges were “tailor-made” and referred to the complainant’s conduct after the alleged incident.
Tejpal’s counsel wanted the court to look at the CCTV footage from the hotel lobby, showing the woman emerging from the lift in which she was allegedly assaulted. Singh contended: “Her conduct does not support her statement that says she ran out of the lift. The footage shows no such attempt. Anybody can make allegations of this nature and get away.” The argument seemingly failed to cut ice with the bench, which had said, “How can she be disbelieved, and this is not the stage to consider all this.”
Appearing for Goa Police, which registered the FIR in the case, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta countered Singh and said that the contentions should be raised during the trial. He said there is “ample material in the form of contemporaneous emails”.