In a virtual hearing on Wednesday, the Goa government told the Bombay High Court that the trial court’s judgment acquitting journalist Tarun Tejpal in the 2013 rape case, while naming and shaming the victim, was “retrograde” and “fit for fifth century,” NDTV reported.
The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court was hearing Tejpal’s plea challenging the maintainability of the Goa government’s appeal against his acquittal in the case. The bench later adjourned the hearing till November 16.
Tejpal was accused of forcing himself on one of his junior colleagues inside an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa on November 7 and 8, 2013 during the Think 13 festival, Tehelka‘s official annual event.
On November 18, 2013, the survivor filed a complaint with the magazine’s then managing editor Shoma Chaudhry. In February 2014, the Goa Police Crime Branch filed a 2,846-page charge sheet against Tejpal.
After a trial spanning over seven years with numerous witnesses, colleagues’ statements, CCTV footage, e-mails and WhatsApp messages submitted by the prosecution, the Goa Sessions Court acquitted Tejpal of all charges in May 2021, noting that the survivor did not “demonstrate a rape victim’s behaviour” as she did not look “terrified or traumatised” enough.
Contrary to the law, the 527-page order illegally revealed the survivor’s identity including her name, email ID, husband’s name, and mother’s name. Objecting to this, the state moved the Bombay High Court, challenging the trial court’s acquittal and sought amends for them.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the counsel for Goa government pointed out that the survivor in the case was “named and shamed” before the bench. He also termed the judgment of the trial court “retrograde” and “fit for fifth century.”
To which, the judge said that “in not just this case, but in all the cases of rape, we will not allow lawyers to read the evidence, we will read it ourselves” and added that instead, the lawyer can point out the page number of the evidence.
Tejpal’s lawyer, meanwhile, argued that the state government had not granted permission to the public prosecutor to file the application challenging the session’s court order on the same day. He also added that they had filed a plea for “in-camera” hearing of the case, which the Goa government opposed. The court will reportedly hear this application later.
Tarun Tejpal has challenged the maintainability of the Goa government’s appeal against his acquittal in the case. Desai said the permission to file application (challenging the session court’s order) was not granted by the state government to the public prosecutor on the day when it was filed.
He also said that they have filed an application for ‘in-camera’ hearing into the matter, which Mehta opposed. The bench will hear later Tarun Tejpal’s application seeking in-camera hearing into the matter.