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Friday, August 06, 2021

Sexual assault case: HC to hear Goa govt’s appeal against Tarun Tejpal’s acquittal on July 29

Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi on May 21, had acquitted former editor-in-chief of the Tehelka magazine Tarun Tejpal in a 2013 rape case, while questioning the victim's conduct.

By: Express News Service | Panaji |
Updated: June 25, 2021 9:05:17 am
Former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal (File)

The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday granted the Goa government time to make further amendments to its appeal against the acquittal of journalist Tarun Tejpal in a 2013 rape case. The court adjourned the matter till July 29.

Tejpal, former editor-in-chief of Tehelka, was accused of sexually assaulting a then colleague in an elevator of a hotel in Goa on November 7, 2013, and November 8, 2013. On May 21, Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi acquitted him of all charges. The court held that the complainant’s behavior “did not demonstrate any kind of normative behavior” that a victim of sexual assault “might plausibly show”.

Representing Tejpal, senior counsel Kapil Sibal Thursday raised a preliminary objection that even in the amended appeal, the Goa government had said that the trial court’s judgment was not available and some of the annexures in the appeal were not in place.

Reading out the amended appeal, Sibal said, “Though a copy of the judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge is not available…how is that possible? This is the amended petition and this goes on paragraph after paragraph…a copy of the email dated blank is annexed. Page after page…we just don’t understand what appeal this is. I only say that they put their house in order.”

“Possibly, when they filed the appeal, they did not have a copy (of the judgment),” Justice M S Sonak said.

Goa Advocate General Devidas Pangam said they had, on Wednesday, received a notice from Tejpal’s advocate on record that certain documents and annexures were not with them. “We will give them all the annexures. The complete set as it exists in court in a week’s time,” Pangam told the court.

The Division Bench of Justices M S Sonak and M S Jawalkar granted the state government time to further amend its appeal.

In its amended appeal, the Goa government had stated that the trial court disbelieved the woman “on the basis of a conception of how a victim is expected to behave while being sexually assaulted”. This finding of the trial court, the state government had said, was “unsustainable in law and is coloured by prejudice and patriarchy”.

The Goa government also stated that the court had perversely cast aspersions on the Investigating Officer that he “destroyed” the CCTV footage of the first floor of November 7, 2013.

Lawyer Ankur Chawla, representing Tejpal with Sibal, Thursday also urged the court to grant them the liberty to file an affidavit in opposition.

“In such matters, are affidavits contemplated?” Justice Sonak asked. Sibal, however, did not press the request further.

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