Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal, accused of sexually assaulting ajunior colleague, was arrested on Saturday after a court rejected his anticipatory bail application.
Tejpal, who was at the Crime Branch office since 4.30 pm, wastaken into custody soon after the verdict was announced. The much-delayed order on Tejpal’s bail plea was pronounced around 8 pm by North Goa District and Sessions judge Anuja Prabhudessai.
The order allows Tejpal to avail of home food, bedding and clothing during his time in police custody. Sources said that the delay was caused because of the time taken by the judge to dictate the order to her stenographer.
Accused by the police of dodging them over the last few days, Tejpal’s presence in the Crime Branch office was seen as an attempt to avoid being paraded in public from the courtroom to custody, located more than five kms away.
As Tejpal and his family left the court premises on his way to a city hotel after noon, an unidentified person shouting slogans against the editor, charged towards him with a black cloth, but was overpowered and whisked away by the police.
The courtroom drama
Earlier in the day, lawyers from the defence as well as the prosecution matched their wits against each other. Tejpal had been granted anticipatory bail on Friday. Lead defence lawyer Geeta Luthra offered several concessions to the prosecution such as Tejpal’s willingness to stay in Goa until police requires, surrendering of his passport and fixed deposits among others.
“I have offered that I will stay in Goa until a charge sheet is filed. I can be in Bangalore. I can be wherever this court directs,” Luthra also said on Tejpal’s behalf, assuring that for the duration of the investigation, Tejpal would not visit Mumbai, where the victim resides.
She said that Tejpal does not have any criminal record and therefore should be considered for anticipatory bail. Specially appointed public prosecutor Saresh Lotlikar, however, argued that Tejpal was changing colours like a chameleon and that police custody is required to complete the Tejpal end of the probe and get the real story out of him.
“Custodial interrogation is a must,” Lotlikar said. “Your contention that your (‘) immaculate reputation will be damaged... may we tell you that it’s already gone for a toss, and mere detention under police custody won’t do any further damage,” the prosecution argued.
The prosecution also refuted claims made by the defence that the complainant had “vested interests” and therefore delayed informing her superiors about the two alleged sexual assaults by Tejpal in a Goa resort earlier this month.
“The lady is known to the accused and her father was a friend of the accused. Being the sole breadwinner, she had to make the decision of her life before writing the email,” Lotlikar argued,saying that the victim had confessed about the assault in the elevator to two orthree colleagues.
“That the accused is trying to interfere with investigation is proved in the case,” Lotlikar said, making a strong case for Tejpal’s custodial interrogation.