Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday confirmed that a sexual assault was attempted by Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal on a junior colleague at a Goa resort.
Tejpal has been accused of sexual misconduct by a junior colleague at Tehelka during a high-profile conference held in Goa earlier this month. Tejpal, who has not denied the charges, stepped down as the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, calling it ‘atonement’ for his actions.
Parrikar, however, said the survivor would have to come forward and complain for police to file a First Information Report (FIR). Parrikar blamed the incident on Tejpal’s ‘individual weakness’.
“From what I see, there was definitely an attempt. There are e-mails sent by the girl, which are on the Internet,” said Parrikar, whose government has ordered a preliminary inquiry into the incident.
The chief minister said a complaint from the victim would be vital for filing an FIR. “Progress of the inquiry will depend on whether the complainant registers a complaint. Because it is a body offence, the complainant has to have a role. Unless I have a complaint, I cannot prove guilt,” Parrikar said.
The chief minister also justified a preliminary probe, claiming that if a ‘criminal offence happens in the jurisdiction of the state, we are required to investigate it’.
“Based on the report of the preliminary inquiry, further action will be taken. Preliminary inquiry does not require a complaint from anyone,” Parrikar said.
Parrikar also said the Goa State Women’s Commission could also take up the matter suo motu. “My information indicates that there is a complaint with the women’s commission in Delhi, and I also know that the Goa Women’s Commission is also considering a suo motu probe in the issue,” the chief minister said.
Parrikar questioned Tejpal’s ‘atonement’ philosophy, after the editor decided to recuse himself from the post of editor for six months after issuing a public apology about the incident.
“I don’t blame the event. It’s a weakness of an individual. If you have a weakness, then you can’t say that I am out of business for six months,” Parrikar said.
Tejpal withdrawn from Prasar Bharti
According to sources, soon after the assault came to light, Vice President Hamid Ansari asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to withdraw Tejpal’s name from the panel
Tehelka’s Managing Editor speaks up
Shoma Chaudhury sent a letter to Tehelka employees saying, “There was an incident which has been dealt with internally. An unconditional apology was extended by Tarun. The journalist concerned was satisfied with the action taken. Tarun voluntarily recusing himself as editor is in keeping with the standards we have espoused as an institution and want to live by.” Chaudhury also asked her colleagues to ‘stand by the institution’ in what was a ‘hard time for all of us’. As the media mounted pressure, Chaudhury said she needed a little time to address all the questions. “I want to address the issues that have been raised, please give me a chance to do it in a decent way. I am from the fraternity and understand the need for transparency but I do need the time to act correctly on it,” she said, adding that they were in the process of setting up a three-member committee.