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Tarun Tejpal acquitted in sexual harassment case

Tarun Tejpal acquitted in sexual harassment case

“He is acquitted.” Special judge Kshyama Joshi pronounced the judgment.

The Mapusa District and Sessions Court in Goa on May 21 acquitted former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal in a 2013 sexual harassment and rape case filed by his colleague.

Mr. Tejpal was accused of raping his colleague in an elevator of a five-star hotel. He was arrested on November 30, 2013, by the Goa Crime Branch and was granted bail on July 1, 2014, by the Supreme Court.

No journalists were allowed inside the court due to COVID-19 protocols.

Public Prosecutor Francisco Tavora told The Hindu, “He is acquitted.”

Special judge Kshyama Joshi pronounced the judgment, and the reasons for acquittal will be known in due course of time.

On September 29, 2017, the court framed charges against him under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code.

The trial commenced in March 2018 but got interrupted due to several factors, one of them being Mr. Tejpal seeking a discharge in the case, for which he first moved the sessions court, then the High Court and later the Supreme Court.

In August 2019, the top court declined his plea and ordered that the trial be held in-camera (not open to the public) and be completed in six months.

The trial finally began on December 7, 2020, and the survivor was examined and cross-examined for an entire month till January 7, 2021, by physical appearance and through video-conferencing.

The prosecution examined 71 witnesses and the defence had four witnesses, including family members of both the accused and the survivor. The trial concluded at the end of February 2021 and, after final arguments were made by both sides, the judgment was reserved.

The court was earlier supposed to pronounce the judgment on April 27 but was adjourned to May 12 due to shortage of staff in the wake of COVID 19 pandemic. It was again adjourned to May 19 because of Cyclone Tauktae and then to May 21.

Mr. Tavora said, “We are seriously aggrieved and State will be assailing the judgement.” 

Mr. Tejpal, in a press statement, thanked the judge and his lawyers, one of who died due to COVID-19. It read, “As a family, we owe our advocate Rajiv Gomes a profound and permanent debt. The past seven and a half years have been traumatic for my family as we have dealt with the catastrophic fallout of these false allegations on every aspect of our personal, professional and public lives. We have endeavoured to uphold every norm of decency expected in a case like this.

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