The legal team engaged by Tehelka co-founder Tarun Tejpal is preparing its strategy to keep Tejpal, who has been charged with the rape of a junior colleague, out of jail.
Sources close to the legal team that includes well-known lawyer Raian Karanjawala said that the lawyers are examining two options: to move the Delhi high court with a plea to transfer the case from the Goa Police to the CBI, and to apply for anticipatory bail for their client.
A source said Tejpal’s lawyers claim that the Goa Police’s swift registration of an FIR against their client without a formal complaint by the junior colleague concerned indicates that the BJP-led Goa government was targeting Tejpal, who was behind Operation Westend, a devastating sting operation on senior NDA leaders that caused widespread embarrassment for the saffron party.
Conducted a decade ago, the sting resulted in BJP president Bangaru Laxman having to resign. In 2012, Laxman was sentenced to four years in jail. Several officials were sacked and the then defence minister George Fernandes was forced to resign but was reinstated later.
“There is an attempt to frame him and the probe could be partial. For a free-and-fair probe, the case should be handed over to an independent agency,” the source said.
Though Tejpal has not received any notice from the Goa Police, his lawyers believe the fact that the Goa Police recorded the statement of three colleagues the young woman confided in soon after the alleged assaults took place was reason enough for Tejpal to apply for anticipatory bail. The colleagues are believed to have confirmed the woman’s account of events in her written complaint to Tehelka’s managing editor Shoma Chaudhary.
“Anticipatory bail is likely to be filed in the wake of recent developments. It remains to be decided where the application would be filed, Goa or Delhi,” the source said.
The source clarified that a Delhi court has the jurisdiction to entertain both the anticipatory bail and transfer pleas since Tejpal lives in Delhi. “The court here has the jurisdiction to protect his fundamental rights. It is not necessary to move the Bombay High Court just because the FIR registered falls within its jurisdiction,” the source said.
There is a possibility that Tejpal might also challenge the FIR before court and seek its quashing. The FIR lists rape by a person in a position of authority over the woman, an offence that carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.
Tejpal’s lawyers also claim the complaint by the colleague is an afterthought and a conspiracy to frame Tejpal, said a source.