The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the bail plea of Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal, who has been charged with allegedly raping a junior female colleague in Goa last year, and issued a notice to the Goa Police.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam asked the state police to file its reply within four weeks on why Tejpal should not be given bail.
The 50-year-old Tehelka founder approached the apex court challenging the March 14 verdict of the Goa bench of the Bombay high court, which had rejected his bail plea, on April 10 seeking bail on the ground that "the trial will take considerable time to conclude".
His bail application was rejected by Bombay HC on the ground that main witnesses in the case were yet to be examined.
During the brief argument, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Tejpal, pleaded for interim bail and said the apex court can impose the condition on him not to leave Goa and come to Delhi during the pendency of the trial, which would be acceptable to him.
Tejpal has been chargesheeted for allegedly raping, sexually harassing and outraging the modesty of a junior colleague during an event held at a hotel in Goa in November last year. Tejpal was arrested on November 30, 2013.
He has been accused of sexually assaulting the victim on November 7 and repeating the offence the next day.
Tejpal had said in his bail petition the trial is likely to take a considerably long time as there are 152 witnesses cited by the prosecution. He also said there are contradictions in the prosecution's case, which prima facie show his innocence.
Tejpal contended he was not required for any further probe and if refused bail he would be unable to prepare his defence and exercise his right to a fair trial.
He also pleaded that his mother was critically ill. Tejpal's mother is suffering from cancer and he has previously been allowed to visit her once in the hospital and once at their home.
The Goa Police had filed a charge sheet against Tejpal on February 17, 2014 and in terms of Section 309 of Criminal Procedure Code, the trial, as far as possible, has to be completed within a period of two months from the date of filing of the charge sheet.
Tejpal has also been chargesheeted under sections 354, 354-A (sexual harassment), 341 and 342 (wrongful restrain), 376 (rape), 376(2)(f) (being a person in a position of trust or authority towards the woman and rapes her) and 376 (2)(k) (being in a position of control or dominance over a woman and rapes her) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Goa Police has claimed in the chargesheet that there was sufficient evidence available in the form of documents and statements on record to show that Tejpal had been evading police after commission of the alleged crime.
Tejpal is currently in judicial custody and lodged at Sada sub-jail in Goa's Vasco town.
(With PTI inputs)
(Clarification: In an earlier copy we carried that Tarun Tejpal's bail plea had been rejected)