Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal, accused of sexual assault by a former junior colleague, was granted a brief relief, with a Goa court protecting him from arrest till 10am on Saturday.
Tejpal, who reached Panaji from the Capital at around 5pm with family members and lawyers on a day of fast-moving developments, appeared for questioning before the crime branch at around 7.15pm and left at around 9pm.
Two hours earlier, the Panaji sessions court had adjourned the hearing of his anticipatory bail to Saturday morning. The Goa Police had on Thursday turned down the 50-year-old investigative journalist’s request for more time.
Seeking anticipatory bail for her client, Geeta Luthra questioned the behaviour of the victim — whom she even named twice — and also claimed that the probe was politically motivated and unfair.
The Delhi-based senior advocate told principal districts and sessions judge Anuja Prabhudessai the “atmosphere in the country is draconian as far as the new law is concerned”.
“The very fact that the complaint is 11 days’ old shows the complaint is tainted… Tejpal has lots of enemies,” she said.
The journalist, who has since quit Tehelka, has accused Tejpal of sexually assaulting her in a Goa hotel on November 7 and 8 during the Delhi-based investigative magazine’s THiNK fest.
Her conduct during the festival after the alleged assaults was “normal” and she “even went to the beach the next day”, Luthra said, adding she wasn’t casting aspersions.
The judge responded to these arguments saying, the delay in lodging the complaint could be explained and that the “conduct of the victim is not being gone into at this stage”.
Twice during the hearing, Luthra named the victim, evoking a sharp reaction from the judge. “You ought not to have said it,” Prabhudessai said. “You should have known (that) the victim’s identity is to be protected.” “It looks like she is in the dock and she is the accused… These mistakes we don’t accept and tolerate.”
Early in the day, a joint team of the Delhi and Goa police raided Tejpal’s residence in Delhi’s Jungpura, homes of his relatives in Gurgaon and south Delhi and the Tehelka office after his wife said she was not aware of his whereabouts.
(With inputs from agencies)
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What happened yesterday:
Tejpal arrives at crime branch in Goa.
Tarun Tejpal given interim relief against arrest till 10am on Saturday by the sessions court.
Tejpal detained as soon his plane landed in Dabolim International Airport in Panjim. Judge hearing his case allows him to be brought to court in Panjim.
BJP workers protest against Tejpal, outside Dabolim Airport.
Tejpal willing to stay in Goa for next few weeks or anywhere else except Mumbai and Delhi if court so orders, says his lawyer.
Tejpal's lawyer says victim's name in court, judge reacts strongly and says "it's not done, looks like she is in the dock and she is accused".
Tarun Tejpal's flight land in Goa
"There is CCTV footage, it'll exonerate me. I request if we can all have a viewing of the footage in its entirety," Tejpal's lawyer said on his behalf.
Tejpal's lawyer claims police summons weren't served as per procedure.
Tejpal's lawyer alleges political motivation and says complaint was made after 11 day delay.
Tejpal's lawyer says his client's reputation precedes him.
Tejpal's counsel Geeta Luthra asks court if arguments can begin tomorrow at 10am, judge says it must begin today.
If necessary, arguments can be completed tomorrow, judge tells Tejpal's lawyer.
Luthra also tells court Tejpal is on his way to Goa by flight.
Tejpal's bail hearing begins at sessions court in Goa.
Matter just called out in Goa court, Tejpal's lawyer seeks 10-min time to read response filed by the other side.
Tejpal flies to Goa from Delhi airport.
I got the police summons yesterday (Thursday), I told them I'm going to Goa: Tejpal to reporters on Delhi airport
Tejpal reaches Delhi airport at 1pm. He has booked a 2:30pm flight, Indigo 335, to Goa.
Tejpal will reach Goa for joining the probe against him, his lawyer said.
Goa Police says that they are seeking custodial interrogation of Tehelka editor.
Tejpal's lawyer Geeta Luthra tells reporters later that he has been given interim bail till 2.30pm.
Tejpal has to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 20,000, his lawyers said.
Tejpal gets interim bail till 2.30pm from the sessions court in Goa which will pronounce its final order later in the afternoon.
Sessions Judge Anuja Prabhudesai gives Tejpal interim protection from arrest on a bail application moved by his lawyers.
The home ministry seeks a report from Goa Police on the sexual assault case.
"MHA (ministry of home affairs) has asked Goa Police to give full information about the case," RPN Singh told reporters.
Singh says the Central government has framed a strong law for safety of women, and if anyone is accused of snooping, stalking, or outraging a woman's modesty, there should be immediate action and it should be above politics.
Tejpal's lawyers move the court for bail after a joint team of Goa and Delhi police went to his residence in South Delhi's Jungpura to arrest him this morning but did not find him there. Later they carried out searches at various other places, including that of his relatives.
Armed with a non-bailable warrant, a Goa Police team reaches the residence of Tejpal a little after 6am and spent over 90 minutes.
Tejpal's wife Geetan Batra refuses to divulge to the police any detail of his whereabouts.
Crime Branch personnel from Delhi police also accompanied the Goa Police team.
Police leave his house and may look at other possible locations where he could be found.
The police action came after they rejected Tejpal's request for time till Saturday to appear before them.