Claiming that the rape allegation was a figment of the imagination and a result of the wrath of vengeance of Goas BJP government for the exposes published in his magazine,Tehelka founder and former editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal sought anticipatory bail in the Delhi High Court Tuesday.
The court,however,refused to grant interim protection without hearing detailed arguments. I dont even have a copy of the FIR,how can I pass any order, said Justice Sunita Gupta,directing the counsel for the Goa government to submit a copy of the FIR.
The matter is set to be heard Wednesday.
Claiming that a false and concocted version of an intimate encounter between two individuals…has been played out as allegations of sexual assault,the bail plea filed by senior advocates K T S Tulsi and Geeta Luthra described the incident as only light-hearted bantering.
Alleging that the investigation agency in its endeavour to please its political masters was turning a blind eye to the CCTV footage from the hotel,the plea claimed the nature of the meeting could be established by the footage.
Tejpals contention in the petition is yet another shift in his stand in the case. He had first apologised unconditionally to the colleague who accused him of sexually assaulting her,saying he had attempted a sexual liaison with her two times.
He told Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury that he took blame for the incident and needed to atone. Subsequently,he told his friends in an SMS that the incident was fleeting and consensual and then told The Indian Express that the colleague was lying,he was being framed and political forces were driving much of it.
Tejpals bail plea also claimed that the alleged victim continued to party and was completely normal and friendly all throughout her stay in Goa. It said she and her family members had not approached the police to file a complaint,and the incident was blown out of proportion by various groups with vested interests,including top-most executives of Goa and even national political leaders of one party.
It is pertinent to note that the applicant exposed the then president of BJP in 2001 for committing corruption in defence deals as a result of which the party president as well as the then defence minister…had to resign. Furthermore,the applicant was also instrumental in exposing the role of prominent party leaders and the manner in which BJP was attempting to buy over crucial eyewitnesses and scuttle fair investigation in the Gujarat riot case, said the plea.
During arguments in the court Tuesday,Tulsi said the case was at best,of Section 354 of the IPC and that the charge of section 376 is a figment of imagination. Section 354 covers outraging the modesty of a woman while 376 covers rape.
The investigation being carried out by the Goa Police is patently tainted,unfair and is being used as an opportunity to satisfy the longstanding grudge of the political executive against the works and ideological stand of the present petitioner… (they) have unleashed their wrath of vengeance against the applicant, it said.
In its synopsis of arguments,the plea also said the application is filed seeking transfer of investigation of the FIR…under 354A,376,376(2)(k) (rape by person in position of authority) of IPC as the applicant apprehends the instant investigation being carried out by the Goa Police is patently tainted,unfair and is being used as an opportunity to satisfy the long standing grudge of the political executive.
However,the petition made no mention of a transfer and merely asked for anticipatory bail or transit anticipatory bail to allow him to travel to Goa to file a similar plea.
Undertaking that Tejpal was willing to join the investigation as and when required,his lawyers said the plea was only for interim protection. But the court declined their request for issuing orders against any coercive action until the application is disposed of.
The FIR has been filed suo motu without any complaint by the victim,and (Chief Minister) Manohar Parrikar has told the media that he is keeping in touch with the investigation team. This is interference by the executive in the police investigation, argued Luthra.
The counsel for the Goa government,Z Madhukar,as well as criminal standing counsel for Delhi,Pawan Sharma,opposed the bail plea,stating that the case was related to a serious crime.
He has managed to keep himself safe until now. I am sure he can keep himself safe for two more days, argued Madhukar.
Earlier on Tuesday,an email containing a purported draft of the bail plea and circulated widely described the alleged sexual assault as only light-hearted bantering which lead to a moment of privacy between the two individuals.
It also said the second meeting between Tejpal and the alleged victim on November 8 lasted for few seconds and no intimate moment was shared.
The law firm representing Tejpal denied this purported draft and said it was factually incorrect to attribute it to the firm.
The petition filed in court described the incident as light-hearted banter and did not make any mention of privacy. Referring to the alleged second incident,the plea said there was no incident which could constitute the commission of a cognizable offence.