Why Did You Apologise to Your Colleague if Sexual Assault Charges Are False, SC Asks Tarun Tejpal [06-08-2019]

New Delhi: Putting founder-editor of Tehelka magazine Tarun Tejpal in the dock, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked him why he apologised to his former colleague if he claims the sexual assault charges against him were a sham.

As Tejpal's lawyer contended that the allegations of rape against the senior journalist were tailor-made and had no truth, the top court asked Tejpal why he sent the letter of apology to the woman after the alleged incident nearly six years ago.

“If nothing had happened, you would not have sent apologies. Something inappropriate must have happened,” remarked Justice Arun Mishra, who was heading the three-judge bench.

A junior colleague of Tejpal had accused him of sexually assaulting her inside a lift at a five-star hotel in Goa during an event in 2013, triggering massive public outrage. He is currently out on bail.

After a Goa court ordered him to stand the trial, Tejpal moved the Supreme Court, seeking the charges of rape and wrongful confinement against him quashed.

Senior lawyer Vikas Singh, appearing for Tejpal, referred to the CCTV footages of the hotel lobby, argued that it was the complainant who could be seen running after him and that "she is the one who started everything".

Singh added that anybody can make allegations like this in a lift. He further accused the police of concealing certain WhatsApp messages of the victim, which according to Singh, will prove the charges false.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Goa Police in this matter, refuted these allegations and said that the arguments by Tejpal's lawyer were meant for the trial. "The trial is yet to take place. There are ample materials in the form of contemporaneous emails," said Mehta.

The bench also told Singh that he should reserve the arguments on the merit of the case for the trial. "It is not at this stage. It (complaint) cannot be dismissed at this stage," observed the bench.

It then reserved its order on Tejpal's petition while adding: "We will not damage anybody's case." Another bench in the Supreme Court had last year in October stayed the trial in the case, pending its final decision on Tejpal's petition.

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06 Aug 2019