Bombay HC issues notice in State’s appeal against Tarun Tejpal’s acquittal

The court has called for the records of his case from the trial court, observing that there was a prima facie case to grant leave for the appeal


The Bombay High Court at Goa has issued a notice to journalist Tarun Tejpal in an appeal against his acquittal in a case where was accused of raping his former colleague at Tehelka magazine.

The High Court observed that prima facie, a case was made out for considering leave and issued notice, returnable on June 24, according to Bar & Bench. The court has called for all papers and proceedings from the Sessions Court, in the interim.

LiveLaw quoted Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Goa government, saying, “The law has evolved. The entire judgement proceeds as if the victim is on trial.” He said that the judgement and the court’s approach show a complete lack of sensitivity and knowledge on the subject of crime against women.

Justice SC Gupte sarcastically added that the trial court’s judgement acquitting Tejpal “appears to provide a manual on how rape victims should behave.” Mehta added, “There is a reference that the accused consulted senior lawyers Indira Jaising and Rebecca John. This conduct has seriously gone against the victim. If this girl would have approached me, I would have asked her to consult them. They are feminists,” reported LiveLaw.

On May 21, Goa’s Trial Court’s Special Judge Kshama Joshi acquitted Tejpal, and the 527-page judgment reportedly commented on the survivor’s conduct and behaviour post the alleged assault. The court observed that the complainant “did not demonstrate any kind of normative behaviour” that a victim of sexual assault “might plausibly show”. 

On May 27, a Vacation Bench of Justice SC Gupte directed the Sessions Court to redact statements that give away the survivor’s identity from the judgement before uploading on the website. The court had also granted 3 days’ time to the State which has filed an appeal against the judgment, to amend the grounds of its appeal and fixed the next date of hearing on June 2. 

Tejpal was charged for offences under Indian Penal Code sections of 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354B (assault or use of force against woman with intent to disrobe), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2)(f) (person in position of authority over women, committing rape) and 376(2)(k) (rape by person in position of control). He was accused of forcing himself on a colleague, inside an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa during Tehelka magazine’s official event, in November 2013.

The matter will be heard on June 24.


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