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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Tejpal sent to six-day police custody in sex assault case

Bhavya Dore, Hindustan Times  Panaji, November 30, 2013
First Published: 09:07 IST(30/11/2013) | Last Updated: 19:31 IST(1/12/2013)

Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal was remanded in six days’ police custody on Sunday after appearing in court on allegations of sexually assaulting a colleague in a hotel in the holiday state of Goa.

A court in Goa ordered Tejpal remain in custody to allow police time to question the 50-year-old editor, who faces a possible rape charge over the allegations that could see him in jail for 10 years.

"The police had asked for 14 days' remand but after hearing our arguments, the court gave them six days of custody," Tejpal's lawyer Sandip Kapoor told reporters outside the court in Panaji, the capital of Goa.

Tejpal was arrested late on Saturday after earlier flying into the state and pledging to cooperate with police over the allegations. Tejpal did not apply for bail on Sunday, after earlier being refused, and has denied the allegations.

The woman, who has quit the magazine since the scandal broke, has told police her former employer molested her twice in a hotel elevator during a magazine-sponsored event in the seaside holiday hotspot last month.

READ: Prima facie evidence to show rape: court on Tejpal

Police have filed an initial case against Tejpal under sections of the criminal code including rape.

A stronger law introduced after outrage over the fatal gang-rape of a student last year included a wider definition of rape, and Tejpal could be jailed for 10 years if charged and convicted, lawyers say.

Tejpal was accused of hypocrisy and trying to cover up a serious crime after Tehelka staff were sent an email last month saying Tejpal was stepping down for six months for "misconduct".

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said in a statement to media groups on Friday that she was fighting to preserve her "integrity".

READ: Centre cannot interfere in Tehelka case: Shinde

During a pre-trial hearing on Saturday, Tejpal's lawyer argued his client was a man of "global repute" and sending him to police custody without establishing the facts of the case would subject him to "humiliation and ignominy".

But district judge Anuja Prabhudesai ordered Tejpal should not be given bail because prima facie evidence indicated he had "misused his position, betrayed her trust and violated her body".

"The material on record prima facie reveals that the applicant by his acts, which he has termed as lighthearted banter, had subjected the victim to ignominy, humiliation, and disgrace," the judge said in her order.

READ: Full text of Shoma Chaudhury’s resignation letter
READ: ‘Traumatised by lack of support’, victim quits Tehelka

Earlier on Saturday, the prosecution, arguing for custodial interrogation, said Tejpal had tried to approach the victim’s family, had not previously cooperated with the police and would be able to seek the guidance of a counsel if he were to stay at large.

“You want to say the police aren’t considering your version; your version has to be verified by cross-checking through interrogation… and that has to take place custodially,” public prosecutor Sarvesh Lotlikar said.

Rejecting the defence’s argument about the new rape law (that came in the wake of the Delhi gang rape) being draconian, public prosecutor Saresh Lotlikar said, “But to pave the way for this draconian law, somebody had to pay with her life. Draconian or not, it is the law.”

He also pointed out that the victim’s version had remained consistent while Tejpal kept changing his “like a chameleon changing his colours”.

The prosecutor added that the CCTV footage available “confirm(ed) that position (assault) to a certain extent”.

(With inputs from AFP)

READ: Future tense for staffers at Tehelka
READ: Hindi edition boss wants to keep Tehelka magazine alive
READ: What Tejpal did to me falls within legal definition of rape, writes complainant in fresh letter


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