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Tehelka case: Court to decide on Tarun Tejpal’s bail plea today

The Tehelka founder reached Goa amid protests by BJP supporters outside the airport.

Written by Prawesh Lama | Panaji |
November 30, 2013 8:04:49 am

A Goa court on Friday gave minor relief to the founder-editor of Tehelka magazine, Tarun Tejpal,as it barred the police from arresting him until Saturday morning for allegedly raping a colleague,ending a day of high drama which saw the veteran journalist dodging police and arriving in Goa under intense media glare.

Tejpal reached Goa at 5.05 pm Friday amid protests outside the airport after being summoned by the police to appear before them.

In the interim bail application,he had sought protection from arrest after arriving in Goa to cooperate in the investigation. However,Principal Judge Anuja Prabhudesai first gave him interim relief until 2.30 pm Friday,after which Tejpal left from Delhi.

Tejpal’s lawyers had moved the court for bail after a joint team of the Goa and Delhi police went to his residence in South Delhi’s Jungpura area to arrest him Friday morning but did not find him there.

Arguing for his bail,Tejpal’s lawyer Geeta Luthra claimed there was political interference in the case,that the police is acting in a partisan manner and the atmosphere in the country had become “draconian”.

“Investigation is being done on the behest of political forces. The lady is not normal. The investigation is not being done in a fair manner. The law itself is draconian,” Luthra said referring to the amendments to the rape law after the December 16 Delhi gangrape. The judge pulled up Tejpal’s lawyer for naming the victim in an open court while reading the FIR.

Earlier,speaking to mediapersons outside the court,Luthra had said,“Mr Tejpal has maintained dignity of the situation…he has only gone by law,shown his respect for the law. He has to abide by every order”.

She also said that Tejpal had assured full cooperation and that “a person who does not live in the city must get reasonable time to present himself…he is not a superman”.

Luthra also contended that he was a man of high integrity and reputation and that the CCTV footage of the hotel will exonerate him. The complaint from the victim,who was seen normal even after the alleged incident,came 10 days after the said episode,she argued.

Luthra said none of the charges of rape,outraging the modesty of a woman and custodial rape have been made out against him. She said strange procedures have been adopted in the case. “I fear that there is some political hand in it resulting in tainted investigation.”

She said Tejpal stood for human rights. He has ruffled many feathers within his own community and also those of political leaders because of which he is not getting an opportunity to have a say.

When the judge asked whether the allegations against him were politically motivated,the lawyer refused to say they were political. Luthra said the allegations were post facto-almost eleven days after the alleged incident.

“My client is a person of great integrity and reputation. For three years Tehelka was persecuted. It is easy to get him into disrepute…My client was created many enemies. His sting operations had even forced the defence minister to resign”.

“Police are carrying out media trial. If this can happen to such a person what can happen to ordinary person,” Luthra added.

Luthra urged for private viewing of the CCTV footage inside and outside the lift. “No criminality happened,no offence happened. No criminality has happened.”

She contended that the entire two day CCTV footage of the girl should be viewed to check whether she was really “hysterical and distraught”.

The defence lawyer also produced a photograph of the victim with Tejpal and Hollywood actor Robert De Nero,which she said was taken two days after the incident and showed the girl comfortable.

“If you see the CCTV footage,you will exonerate me completely. At this stage we cannot say what the girl says is gospel truth,” she said.

The public prosecutor will present the prosecution arguments when the court resumes hearing tomorrow.

Earlier on Friday,a joint team of the Goa Police and Delhi Crime Branch reached Tejpal’s residence in Delhi to arrest him.

Sources said the seven-member Goa Police team led by a sub-inspector had come to the city Thursday night after Tejpal failed to turn up at the Goa Crime Branch office.

They had to take the help of the local police when family members did not open the main gate of his bungalow. Minutes later,two police officials from the local police and a Delhi Police Crime Branch inspector also assisted the team and they managed to enter the house at around 6.10 am.

The police questioned Tejpal’s family members about his whereabouts for about two hours and left the house allegedly after failing to get a proper response from Tejpal’s wife.

Sources said Tejpal’s wife said she did not know where he was and claimed he would join investigation in Goa during the day. “We all returned to Goa Sadan while another Crime Branch team conducted a search at his relatives’ house. At around 11,we received a call from Tejpal’s family informing us that he would take the 2.30 flight to Goa,” said a member of the police team.

Tejpal surfaced around 1 pm when he walked into the domestic airport to take the flight to Goa. The Goa Police team and many journalists also boarded the same flight.

“I have received summons,so I am joining the investigation in Goa,” Tejpal,who was accompanied by his wife Geetan Batra,told reporters.

with PTI inputs

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