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Tejpal stays in custody,police say enough proof victim was ‘confined’ against will

Investigators are taking Tejpal’s November 20 apology letter to the victim on record.

Written by Express News Service | Panaji |
December 8, 2013 10:21:54 pm

Goa Police officials probing the sexual assault charges against Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal have claimed that it has been “sufficiently proved” based on statements of the victim and accused and available CCTV footage that the victim was wrongfully confined against her will inside a lift during the course of the alleged act.

The victim has told police in her statement that Tejpal had lured her into the elevator on two occasions against her wish. The CCTV footage has been sourced from outside the lift.

Tejpal was sent to four days additional police remand Saturday,instead of the eight days police had sought. While the remand hearing took place inside a court room of the Chief Magistrate on the first floor,Tejpal’s aide and former Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury appeared before the Judicial Magistrate First Class,on the ground floor,to record her statement as a witness. She was inside the courtroom from 10 am to 5.45 pm. Sources said the Crime Branch has called her for questioning Sunday.

The Goa Crime Branch has now booked Tejpal under additional charges of wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement,covered by Sections 341 and 342 of the IPC.

Tejpal has also been booked under Section 376 (2) (f) of The Criminal Law ( Amendment) Act,applicable in circumstances where the rape has been committed by a person “being a relative,guardian,or teacher or in a position of trust” towards the victim. Section 376 C of the Act,which has also been imposed,is invoked when the rape accused is a person in fiduciary role. Earlier,alongside rape charges,the Goa Police had invoked Section 376 (2) (k) (being in a position of control and dominance over a woman).

The investigation team has started recording statements of the family of the victim to prove that they knew Tejpal,that he was a friend of her father,and that it was a relationship of trust and guardianship.

Investigators are taking Tejpal’s November 20 apology letter to the victim on record,where he wrote that the task assigned to her at ThinkFest,to escort a celebrity,“was merely the latest token of our trust”. He acknowledged in the same letter that the victim was his “daughter’s intimate friend”.

For charges under Section 376 C of the amended Act,the investigation is relying on statements of Tehelka staffers,including then managing editor Shoma Chaudhury,along with the contract between the victim and the organisation.

In its arguments against extension of Tejpal’s police remand,the defence pointed out that officials had already seized his cellphone (that he had came in with on November 30),its SIM card,the text messages saved on the phone,all emails between the accused and Chaudhury,and his replies to the victim. The investigation agency has also recovered the clothing worn by the accused (on November 7 and 8,the days of the alleged assault),including two shirts,a trouser and one hat. Officials have stated that apart from being checked for forensic evidence,the clothes will help corroborate the CCTV images. The defence said that the team had also taken a hard drive and desktop from Tejpal’s computer in Delhi.

Defence advocate Sandeep Kapoor further argued that officials of various ranks,including the investigating officer and the deputy superintendent of police of the Crime Branch,had already interrogated him. Noting that Tejpal had spent 168 hours in police custody,where he was interrogated for “mere two to three hours daily”,Kapoor said that police custody was not required.

Prosecutor Saresh Lotlikar,however,told the court that statements of witnesses were still being recorded. Statements of Tejpal’s daughter Tiya and wife Geetan are considered crucial,as the victim had confided in Tiya and was with Geetan on several occasions during the period of ThinkFest. Statements of Tejpal’s family will also be used to establish the relationship of guardianship and trust between him and the victim,said sources.

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