Their case strengthened after the woman journalist formally deposed in a Goa court on Wednesday, police have summoned Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal, accused of sexual assault, to appear before the investigating officer by 3 pm today.
The journalist, who had given her statement to the police in Mumbai on Tuesday, was flown to Goa late Tuesday night quietly.She spent the night under police watch. On Wednesday, she appeared along with a lady police officer before a judicial magistrate.
“The statement was recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” said Deputy Inspector General OP Mishra. A statement recorded before a judicial magistrate makes it admissible in court as evidence and is a preferred legal route in case of sensitive crimes.
This also cleared the ground for police to issue summons to Tejpal. Tejpal has not made a public appearance since the scandal broke out last week.
“Summons have been issued by e-mail and phone to the accused to report by 3 pm tomorrow (Thursday),” Mishra said.
Earlier in the day, responding to allegations by Tejpal about alleged victimisation by the BJP, Goa CM Manohar Parrikar questioned the editor over his supposed Congress links.
“Is Tejpal a Congress stooge? First Tejpal should clarify that,” Parrikar said. His comment came after Congress leaders like Jayanthi Natarajan and Kapil Sibal alleged that the editor could be victimised in a BJP-ruled state for having carried out investigative stories against the party.
Parrikar refuted allegations that he was taking a personal interest in the case. “There is no interference of any sort. I am not in the habit of interfering with police investigations,” he said.
Parrikar said Tejpal’s first confession via e-mail where he admitted to sexually harassing the journalist and his willingness to do penance had done the investigative journalist in.
“It was his guilty conscience which made Tejpal confess,” Parrikar said. The fate of the controversy-ridden ThinkFest could now hang in balance, with the tourism minister saying the state government may not give the event the nod next year.
“We will not allow it if such activities are happening. There are other complaints about the conference too,” said minister Dilip Parulekar. The media clamour outside the trial court building where the woman journalist was deposing before the magistrate attracted police ire.
Mishra warned that criminal action would be taken against television mediapersons if they harassed the victim or revealed heridentity.
“Violating the dignity of the victim is a cognisable offence. I will not hesitate to take action,” Mishra said, refusing to address the daily media conference until cameras put up outside the court were not moved.
Make media work safe for women, say journalist forums
As numerous instances of sexual harassment at workplaces are being brought to the fore, Foundation for Media Professionals, a forum to promote media freedom and quality journalism, underlined the need for security of women. The foundation said all media organisations must have committees that could look into issues of sexual harassment, and such committees could go a long a way in insulating women staff from such experiences. Delhi Union of Journalists’ president Sujata Madhok said the absence of sexual harassment committees in media organisations had forced women working in the media to adopt a ‘culture of silence’. “Though just the formation of such committees will not ensure the safety of the female employees, it itself is needed to ensure that someone intervenes and takes action against such erroneous activities", Madhok said.