Goa district court acquitted Tarun Tejpal of rape charges on Friday, May 21. The former editor-in-chief Tehelka was accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague inside the elevator of a Grand Hyatt hotel in Goa in 2013.
After the judgment, Goa CM Pramod Sawant said the government would appeal in the high court. “The verdict is an injustice towards the victim, and this injustice will not be tolerated. We will challenge the verdict in the high court as soon as possible,” he said.
“We will not let somebody go scot-free like this. I have personally gone through the evidence collected in the case and, looking at it, he cannot be acquitted. It is very sad and we will not tolerate such injustice against women,” Pramod Sawant said.
Francisco Tavora, the special public prosecutor, declared the verdict to be a “serious setback”, adding that the state government will be preparing to file an appeal against the order in the High Court. “Accused has been acquitted of all charges. We are waiting for a copy of the judgement, but the state will be preparing for an appeal against the judgement. That’s all that I can say at this point,” said Tavora while speaking to the media.
The Goa police registered an FIR against Tejpal in November 2013 following which he was arrested. He had been out on bail since May 2014. The Goa crime branch had filed a charge sheet against Tejpal.
Tejpal has been charged under IPC sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty), 354-A (sexual harassment), 354-B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 376(2)(f) (person in position of authority over women, committing rape) and 376(2)k) (rape by person in position of control).
Women’s rights campaigners attacked the court’s decision, with activist Kavita Krishnan calling it “very unfortunate”. “This is a case where there was an enormous amount of evidence and courageous action on the part of the complainant who lost no time in telling people what happened,” said Kavita Krishnan.