The Goa police have imposed the most stringent law, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 against Tarun Tejpal, founder and editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine. Legal experts in Goa believe this is the first high-profile case in the state to be registered under the newly amended act.
Tejpal has been booked under the stringent section 376 (2) (K) of the act and section 354A (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code. (See box: Punishment). Goa’s Director General of Police Kishan Kumar said, “This is one of the most deterrent acts under which Tejpal has been booked after we have found material evidence against him.”
Asked to elaborate, he said, “We have gone through the content of the video footage retrieved from the hotel elevator, and prima facie we are satisfied that a cognisable offence can be made out. Accordingly the police have registered the offence.” The investigation has been handed over to the Crime Branch and is being supervised by Deputy Inspector General of Police (Crime) Omprakash Mishra. He said, “I will have to go through the records before confirming the same.”
DGP Kumar said that a police team would be leaving for Delhi shortly to record the statements of Tehelka officials. Asked if any action would be taken against Shoma Chaudhury for not informing the police about the case and refusing to share official mails, the DGP said that the line of investigation would not be discussed in the media. Advocate Vikram Verma said, “This is the first case in Goa in which an accused is being tried under the newly amended act.” Verma said, “From the perspective of any person with common sense, the email sent by Mr Tarun Tejpal to Ms Shoma Chaudhury on November 20 is a clear plea of guilty.
However, this e-mail is certainly not adequate evidence for a guilty verdict in the eyes of the law. At best, it can be used as corroborative evidence. The investigating agency must collect additional evidences other than the footage for a successful prosecution.” General manager of the Goa hotel where the incident allegedly occurred, Stefan Radstrom, said, “We have no direct knowledge of the incident that transpired in our hotel elevator. We are cooperating with the police and have provided them with the required footage.”
Punishment for Tejpal, if found guilty
354 (a), Indian Penal Code: A man committing any of the following acts - physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; demand for sexual favours; showing pornography against the will of a woman; making sexually coloured remarks - shall be guilty of sexual harassment. The guilty is liable for rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both
376 (2)(K), Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 When a person is in a position of control or dominance over a woman and rapes her, he shall be awarded a punishment, which is not less than 10 years or may even extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the reminder of the accused’s natural life
‘She saw him as a father figure’
Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar, member of the National Commission for Women, praised the Goa police for taking the initiative and registering the FIR against Tejpal. “We had written a single-page letter to DIG Omprakash Mishra, asking him to make the victim a witness and make the police/state the complainant on the basis of the video footage,” she said.
“We have also promised to give the victim a few more days before having any discussion on the incident. She is completely terrified and traumatised as she had been looking up to Tejpal as a father figure and mentor. The NCW has offered her counselling,” said Samant. Samant said that godman Asaram was also arrested under 376 (2)(k), among others, of the act. Goa cops seized CCTV footage from the hotel management. The union home ministry has also sought a report in the matter. Police sources say that efforts were being made to convince the victim to agree to give a formal statement to the police.
- Additional inputs from Agencies
Protests outside Tehelka office
Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) protested outside the Tehelka office yesterday, demanding arrest of its editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal. Police personnel have also been deployed outside his home. As many as 50 ABVP members gathered outside Tehelka's CR Park area office in south Delhi and burnt copies of the English magazine. Policemen stationed outside the office controlled the protesters. Meanwhile, following the protest, policemen were deployed at Tejpal’s Jangpura residence in south Delhi. “Arrangements have been made to prevent any kind of chaos outside the office. Policemen have also been deployed outside his residence,” said an officer. Pic/AFP
Most difficult situation: Chaudhury
Managing Editor of Tehelka Shoma Chaudhury while speaking to one of the news channels described the incident as the “most difficult situation” of her life. “The truth is, and I will be speaking out in great detail about this, the truth is the moment I got this complaint, (which) has not been for many days but actually only on Monday this week, I acted absolutely, wholly and solely driven by my desire to address the aggrieved journalist’s sense of injury and to act in her interest,” she said.
Chaudhury said when she confronted Tejpal about the matter ‘very, very angrily’, he gave a different version. “I absolutely overruled his version and asked for a unilateral, unconditional apology from him,” Chaudhury said adding, “I’m proud she spoke up, my desire is not to be seen in opposition to her,” she said. Chaudhury further went on to add there was no delay in taking action against Tejpal. “It’s a misconception that there was a delay. I received a formal complaint only on November 18, and took action, as requested, within three days,” she said.
Chaudhury stalling probe: Goa CM, DGP
Goa CM Manohar Parrikar said the magazine was indulging in a cover-up. “Police have informed me they have sent an e-mail to the managing editor yesterday (Thursday) at 5:18 pm. They have confirmation it has been received, asking her to cooperate in a crime which is heinous in nature," Parrikar said, echoing views of DGP Kishen Kumar, who said she was being un-cooperative.