More than two days after Shoma Chaudhury, managing editor of Tehelka, announced that she would constitute an “internal enquiry committee” to look into allegations of sexual assault against Tarun Tejpal, editor-in-chief of Tehelka, she is yet to announce any names apart from that of activist Urvashi Butalia.
But even before it has been constituted, lawyers and former and current employees of Tehelka have begun to question whether it can sit in judgment on the issue.
The reason: Tejpal and his family own about 22% of Anant Media, the company that controls Tehelka — the second-largest group of shareholders in it — and control the board of directors.
“There has been a serious lapse of corporate governance at Tehelka. The perpetrator of crime and jury are same in this case. Moreover, no organisation can brush aside allegations of sexual assault as an internal matter,” said Himanshu Upadhyay, senior advocate, Supreme Court.
The internal committee, he explained, would comprise mostly subordinates, who would be expected to pass judgment on their boss. “This is a mere eyewash,” he said.
The majority stakeholder in Anant Media is a company called Royal Building & Infrastructure Pvt Ltd that holds 65.75% stake. Royal Building is owned by the family members of KD Singh, a Rajya Sabha member from Trinamool Congress. Singh is an old associate of Tejpal.
Despite repeated attempts by Hindustan Times, both Singh and Chaudhury remained unavailable for any comments.