Bombay High Court reserves order in Tarun Tejpal rape trial case
Tarun Tejpal faces charges under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code
The Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday reserved its order while hearing a petition filed by Tehelka's former editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal, who has been charged with the alleged rape of a junior colleague at a resort here in 2013. Without specifying a date, Justice Nutan Sardesai reserved her order after hearing arguments by special public prosecutor Sarvesh Lotlikar who pleaded for the trial to begin.
Defence lawyers Aman Lekhi and Pramodkumar Dubey argued that the footage obtained from CCTV cameras at the five star hotel showed that the accusations against Tejpal were false, citing lack of distress in the body language of the victim, as she, along with Tejpal, stepped out of the elevator, where the offence is alleged to have taken place.
Tejpal faces charges under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code -- endorsed by the court -- while an additional Section 354 (b) (criminal assault with intent to disrobe) had been added. The former editor-in-chief of the magazine has been accused of sexually assaulting a junior female colleague in the elevator of a hotel in north Goa during an event in November 2013. Tejpal was subsequently arrested but is now out on bail.
Earlier on Tuesday, defence lawyers also dismissed as "hearsay" accounts of friends and family members of the victim, who she had informed after the alleged rape by Tejpal. They argued that while rape was a "heinous crime", slandering the reputation of a married man with two children by false allegation was "equally important".
Lekhi also showed the camera footage to the judge and termed the victim's body language at the time "natural evidence" in Tejpal's favour. In response, the prosecution requested the court to allow the trial to begin at the earliest. "Let the victim come to explain her conduct. Precisely for that, I appeal that a trial should take place. It is far fetched to discount her statement at this stage," Lotlikar said.
On December 6, the Supreme Court asked the additional District and Sessions court in north Goa to go ahead with the trial, even as Tejpal's lawyers had appealed to the high court seeking stay on the same.
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