SC rejects Tarun Tejpal's plea to cancel sexual harassment charges
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea filed by Tehelka magazine's founder Tarun Tejpal seeking quashing of sexual harassment allegations leveled against him by a former colleague. Calling the offense "morally abhorrent", a bench of the top court ordered Goa's lower court to preferably complete the trial within six months. The case dates back to 2013. Here are more details.
Tejpal, a renowned journalist, is accused of sexually assaulting his junior at a Goa hotel in 2013. On November 30, 2013, he was arrested by the crime branch after his anticipatory bail was rejected by the court. He has been out on bail since May 2014. In 2017, Bombay High Court also refused to quash charges against Tejpal, prompting him to approach SC.
A bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, and comprising Justices MR Shah and BR Gavai lamented the delay in the case. On August 6, while reserving its verdict on Tejpal's plea, the bench had asked why did he apologize to the victim if the charges leveled by her were untrue. "Something inappropriate must have happened," Justice Mishra had remarked.
Senior lawyer Vikas Singh, who appeared for Tejpal, asked the court to assess the CCTV footage of the hotel. He argued the complainant "was the one who started it". "Her conduct does not support her statement that says she ran out of the lift. The footage shows no such attempt. Anybody can make allegations of this nature and get away," Singh said.
Subsequently, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for Goa police, said, "The trial is yet to take place. There are ample materials in the form of contemporaneous emails." The bench also remarked that Singh's arguments aren't justified. "It is not at this stage. It (complaint) cannot be dismissed at this stage," the bench observed while reserving the order for Monday.