September 21, 2021

Aone Punjabi

Nidar, Nipakh, Nawi Soch

Sexual abuse case: Tarun Tejpal got the benefit of the doubt, Goa government reached High Court against the lower court verdict

3 min read

While giving the verdict on sexual harassment allegations against Tarun Tejpal, editor of the magazine ‘Tehelka’, the lower court had said that the investigating officer (IO) collected CCTV footage of the ground, first and second floors, but the first-floor footage in the court Did not offer This is a serious lapse.

Tarun Tejpal, an editor of the popular magazine ‘Tehelka’, was acquitted in a case of alleged sexual exploitation with a female partner by a Goa court. According to the information, the court had given the investigation of the police in the dock while delivering the verdict in the case. The court acquitted Tarun Tejpal based on the benefit of the doubt that during the investigation, Goa police destroyed the evidence and did not present the correct evidence. The Goa government has now appealed to the Bombay High Court against this decision of the lower court to award justice to the victim.

What did the court say on the investigation of the case?
The Additional Sessions Court at Mapusa in Goa acquitted Tarun Tejpal, saying that the Goa police destroyed the CCTV footage of the first floor of the five-star hotel, which was a piece of important evidence. The court said in its 527-page order that impartial investigation is a fundamental right of the accused. The court in its order has mentioned all such mistakes of the Goa Police. The court has said that the investigating officer collected CCTV footage of the ground floor, first and second floors but the footage of the first floor was not produced before the court. This is a significant lapse in the investigation. The court also said that the investigating officer did not compare the victim’s statement with the CCTV footage of November 26, 2013, which was the most neutral evidence in the case. The court said that it is the responsibility of the investigating officer to conduct a fair investigation of the case so that the truth can be revealed.

What did the lower court say in the final verdict?
Judge Kshama Joshi said that after considering the evidence presented before the court, the accused (Tarun Tejpal) is given the benefit of the doubt as there is no evidence supporting the allegations levelled by the prosecution (aggrieved party). The court said that the investigating officer looked at the crucial CCTV footage (first-floor guest lift) of November 21, 2013, which clearly shows that the accused is exiting the lift. Even after knowing the footage was important, it seems that the investigating officer delayed the confiscation of the footage and meanwhile, the first floor CCTV footage of November 7, 2013, was destroyed. The court also said that the investigating officer never sealed the room in which the DVR containing the important footage of the first floor was kept.

What was the charge on Tejpal?
Tejpal was accused of allegedly raping the victim on November 7, 2013, in the left elevator of Block 7 of a five-star hotel in Goa. The victim side says that on 8 November 2013, the victim was again molested. In this case, a case was registered against Tejpal under sections 354 of IPC (use of criminal force with intent to break a woman’s modesty), 354-A (defacement) and 376 (rape). The complaint was lodged by Deputy Superintendent of Police Sunita Sawant, who investigated the case.

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