Goa district court acquitted Tarun Tejpal of rape charges on Friday. The former Tehelka editor-in-chief is accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague inside the elevator of a luxury hotel in Goa in 2013.
Tejpal, who has consistently denied the allegations, welcomed the ruling, describing it as “a long-fought for vindication" in a statement read out by his daughter Cara outside the court in Goa.
“In November 2013 I was falsely accused of sexual assault by a colleague. Today the Hon’ble Trial Court of Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi, in Goa, has honourably acquitted me. In an awfully vitiated age, where ordinary courage has become rare, I thank her for standing by the truth," Tejpal said.
A sessions court in Goa had adjourned the hearing on Wednesday and posted it for May 21 due to lack of staff in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Tejpal was present in the court along with some of his family members and lawyers.
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.
He faced trial 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).
He had earlier moved the Bombay High Court, seeking a stay on the framing of charges against him, but his petition was dismissed.
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," Krishnan was quoted as saying by AFP.
“I am aware of how torturous the trial has been for the complainant. The entire process of the trial has put her in the pillory and subjected her to all kinds of cruelties," she added.