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Tehelka Case: Tarun Tejpal has admitted guilt,Goa govt tells Court

Sunita Gupta of the Delhi High Court,after hearing arguments by both sides,said she would rule on the petition Friday.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi |
November 28, 2013 10:34:11 am

Labeling Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal as a “coward” for “going underground” after he was accused of sexually assaulting a colleague,the Goa government Wednesday vehemently opposed his plea for anticipatory bail saying the veteran journalist had failed all tests laid down by courts for such bail.

Justice Sunita Gupta of the Delhi High Court,after hearing arguments by both sides,said she would rule on the petition Friday.

“This is as between a man married with a family dealing with an employee who is a friend of his daughter and whom he has known as a child…is this not depravity of the highest order?” asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi,appearing for the Goa government.

“The position of dominance,position to manipulate job is ex-facie evident.”

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Alleging that there was “admission of guilt” by Tejpal “in the email and here,” Rohatgi told the court that Tejpal had failed all tests laid down by the courts for grant of anticipatory bail.

Arguing in a courtroom packed with journalists and lawyers,Rohatgi also said that as the alleged incident had occurred in Goa,the FIR registered there and the investigation being conducted there,the Delhi High Court did not have jurisdiction to try the case.

The lawyer also told the court that the alleged victim had given a statement to the Police in Mumbai Tuesday and appeared in a Goa court Wednesday to record her statement before a magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC.

Citing several judgments of the Supreme Court of India,Rohatgi said that Tejpal should have approached the Goa High Court or a sessions court in Goa for anticipatory bail.

The Goa Police also submitted a copy of the FIR and the statement made by the woman journalist to the police,to the court.

Arguing that the crime was “heinous”,the lawyer said it constituted a “sustained attack” since the incident had started on November 7 and continued the next day. He also pointed out that messages had been sent to the phone of the victim from Tejpal’s personal number late at night on November 8,which indicated that he wanted her to deny that anything other than “drunken banter” had occurred.

He also mentioned that there had been other messages from Tejpal to the victim regarding her conversation with Tejpal’s daughter,even after the end of the Think fest in Goa.

“you are acting as a predator and you say treat it as banter? As if that woman is an object?” said Rohatgi,who also added that the victim’s mother had filed a complaint with the Delhi Police alleging that Tejpal’s family was trying to pressure her. “He is also guilty of attempting to influence the victim’s family. How can he be given bail?” asked the lawyer.

Referring to the statement made under Section 161 CrPC,Rohatgi said the police case had taken the SMSes,WhatsApp messages and emails sent by Tejpal to the woman on record,adding that it was an “open and shut case whenever it comes on trial”.

Tejpal’s counsel K T S Tulsi argued that Tejpal had been “man enough to own up to his fault” and had stepped down to enable a fair investigation. “It clearly shows that there is some morality,” Tulsi said.

Tulsi,however,clarified later that the “admission” was only with regard to an “indiscretion” and he was “not admitting to the incident as contained in the FIR”. Members of Tejpal’s family,who were present in the courtroom,seemed visibly disturbed by the arguments.

“Admitting to none of the allegations,I would argue that even if they were true,nothing more than a charge of Section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) was prima facie made out,” Tulsi said.

The defence counsel also said that Tejpal was willing to approach a Goa court,but had filed the plea in Delhi “seeking protection from humiliation by a politically antagonistic government”.

“We are saying that we will go to Goa. Tejpal is not underground,he has filed this plea here,” said senior advocate Geeta Luthra,who also denied media reports that the Goa Police had called Tejpal to Goa for questioning. “He has not received any summons to answer any questions by the Goa police,” Luthra said.

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