Former Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury and three other witnesses are likely to be summoned by the Goa Police to record their statement before a magistrate in connection with a sexual assault case against the magazine's founder Tarun Tejpal, officials said on Wednesday.
"We have sought permission from the court to summon Chaudhury and three other witnesses and register their statement before the magistrate," a senior crime branch official said.
The agency has already recorded her statement during the initial stages of investigation by meeting her at the Tehelka office in New Delhi, before she resigned from Tehelka.
Chaudhury's statement is very crucial for the case as she was the first person to have known about the alleged sexual assault, officials said.
The official said that all four would be called after the court gives the date to record the statement.
The woman journalist had mentioned in her statement that she had interacted with three of her colleagues soon after the alleged assault at a Goa hotel.
Tejpal was arrested on November 30 by the Goa Crime Branch after his anticipatory bail petition was rejected by a sessions court. On December 1, he was remanded to a six-day police custody.
His medical examination was earlier conducted on December 2 at Goa Medical College and Hospital, where various tests, including potency examination, was conducted on him.
The 50-year-old Tehelka founder was taken for a second round of medical tests on Wednesday in Panaji.
A woman journalist, who was employed with Tehelka, had accused Tejpal of sexually assaulting her twice on November 7 and 8 in a lift in a five-star hotel in Goa.
He has been booked under Sections 354A (outraging the modesty of a woman) and 376 (2)(K) (custodial rape) of IPC.
Chaudhury, who resigned from her post on November 28, had faced heat for the apology tendered by Tejpal to the complainant and the in-house probe route suggested by her to redress her complaint of alleged sexual assault instead of seeking a proper police investigation.
Tejpal’s apology — where he confessed to his misconduct — is a crucial part of the evidence being collected by the Goa Police to build their case against him.
In her resignation letter mailed to Tehelka editorial staff, Chaudhury wrote, “as a result of what's transpired over the past few days my integrity has repeatedly been questioned by people from our fraternity and, in fact, by the public at large. I would like to take cognizance of this. I have worked hard for Tehelka for many years and what we have stood for is very dear to me and I hold it in high esteem. I do not want questions raised about my integrity to tarnish the image of Tehelka, which it has done in the past week. Therefore, I resign as Managing Editor with immediate effect.”
In her letter, the managing editor also denied charges of an alleged “cover up” and of not standing by her “feminist positions.”
“While I accept that I could have done many things differently and in a more measured way, I reject the allegations of a cover-up because in no way could the first actions that were taken be deemed suppression of any kind. As for my feminist positions, I believe I acted in consonance with them by giving my colleague’s account precedence over everything else,” she stated in her resignation letter.
Chaudhury had written to the young journalist accepting the latter’s resignation.
Denying the victim’s charge that she did not respond adequately to her complaint, Chaudhury wrote in her letter, “Questions have been asked about why I did not go to the police. In our conversation, you had mentioned that you had considered this option but did not want to go that route. I thought I should respect that and had no reason to disbelieve this, as you had already spoken to journalists about your sexual assault, and both they, and you, could have gone to the police in the ten days that transpired before you brought your complaints to me.”
Chaudhury in her letter said that she is “inexpressibly dismayed” by the complainant’s charges that she (Chaudhury) did not stand by her.
“From the moment I received your complaint, my actions, were driven by outrage on your behalf, urgent concern, and a desire to assuage your sense of injury… despite my immediate and assertive actions in support of you, I stand wrongly defaced,” the letter states.
She had also denied indulging in character assassination of the woman colleague.
"I strongly reject the allegations in the media that I am involved in any manner with any slander, intimidation or character assassination of the complainant journalist," Chaudhury said in a brief statement.
"This is a malicious campaign that has no basis in truth," she said.
(With PTI inputs)
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