Tarun Tejpal was accused of sexually assaulting a then colleague in an elevator of a hotel in Goa on November 7, 2013, and November 8, 2013.
The Goa government has filed its application before the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court seeking a virtual hearing in its appeal against the acquittal of Tarun Tejpal, former editor-in-chief of Tehelka, in a 2013 case of rape and sexual assault. “The case is very important for the state of Goa and also the public at large and has wider ramifications on law and conduct of rape cases,” the Goa government stated in its application.
While the High Court of Bombay at Goa has resumed physical hearings in its new building in Porvorim last month, the Goa government had informed the court on August 31 that it will file an application before the Chief Justice of the High Court seeking a virtual hearing so that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta can continue to represent the state government from Delhi. The High Court had adjourned the case till September 20.
The application filed through Additional Public Prosecutor Pravin Faldesai states: “The Applicant, the state of Goa, is represented…right from inception, when the matter was being heard via video conferencing, by the Ld Solicitor General of India, Shri Tushar Mehta, who is positioned in Delhi. However, in Goa now the matters are exclusively heard physically in court. The ongoing pandemic and the restrictions on inter-state travel due to Covid-19 pandemic makes it difficult for the Ld Solicitor General of India to physically appear in the present matter (sic).”
On August 10, the High Court of Bombay at Goa had allowed the parties in the case – Goa government represented by Mehta and Tejpal represented by senior counsel Amit Desai – to approach the Chief Justice requesting a hearing through video conferencing in the matter.
The Goa government, in its application, urged the Chief Justice to allow a virtual hearing in the case “in furtherance of justice and equity.”
Tejpal was accused of sexually assaulting a then colleague in an elevator of a hotel in Goa on November 7, 2013, and November 8, 2013. On May 21, Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi acquitted him of all charges.
Last month, Tejpal filed an application before the High Court, seeking an in-camera hearing of the proceedings in the appeal filed by the Goa government against his acquittal. Tejpal’s counsel Amit Desai told the court that the proceedings in the case before the trial court as well as earlier proceedings before the High Court were also held in camera.
In Tejpal’s application, he stated that the proceedings be conducted in camera “so as to obviate any prejudice either to the “prosecutrix (woman)” or the present respondent (Tejpal) as the adjudication of the present matter shall also entail reading of evidence read before the Ld trial court.”
Arguing for the government of Goa, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, however, said, “The country has the right to know how the court dealt with this girl who came with a complaint, precise facts, corroborative evidence.” He said, “The way our institution has failed, leaving an inevitable impression on all victims of sexual violence, and onslaught, that it has a deterrent effect on potential victims. They might not come before the court,” Mehta had then told the court.
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