Former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal acquitted in sexual assault case

A session court in Goa on Friday acquitted journalist Tarun Tejpal in the sexual assault case filed against him.

Tejpal, the former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine, was accused of forcing himself on the woman, against her wishes, inside an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa on November 7 and 8, 2013, during the newsmagazine’s official event – the THiNK 13 festival.

According to legal website Live Law, Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi reserved her verdict in the seven-year-old case, last month. The trial was held in-camera at Tejpal’s instance

He has been out on bail since 2014.

In a statement released on Friday, Tejpal claimed that the last seven-a-half-years had been traumatic for his family as they had to deal with the “catastrophic fallout of these false accusations”.

“We have felt boot of the state, but thorough it all we have co-operated fully with the Goa police and the legal system, through hundreds of court proceedings,” read the statement.

He further thanked his lawyer Rajiv Gomes, who died of the coronavirus last week.

“It is with profound respect that I thank this court for its rigorous, impartial, and fair trial and for it thorough examination of the CCTV footage and other empirical material on record,” he said.

The case

In September 2017, a trial court in Goa had charged Tejpal with rape, sexual harassment and wrongful restraint. He had pleaded not guilty. The Goa Police had filed a chargesheet in the case in 2014.

He was charged under sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty), 354-A (sexual harassment), 354-B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 376(2)(f) (person in position of authority over women, committing rape) and 376(2) (k) (rape by person in position of control) of the Indian Penal Code.

The trial began in September 2017 but was delayed repeatedly as Tejpal moved the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court against the allegations. Both the Supreme Court and the High Court had dismissed his petitions seeking to quash the rape charges against him.