‘Seems like a manual for rape victims’: Bombay HC on Tarun Tejpal case verdict

‘There is a case for considering leave for appeal,’ says judge

 

Reacting to the judgment that acquitted journalist Tarun Tejpal of rape and sexual assault charges, the High Court of Bombay at Goa on June 2 observed, “It seems like a manual for rape victims.”

A Single Bench of Justice S.C. Gupte was hearing Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Goa, challenging the judgment passed on May 21 by Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi.

Mr. Mehta read out the 527-page judgment, “The victim’s narrative is of extreme implausibility, and it is not possible to believe that she, a woman who is aware of laws, intelligent, alert and physically fit [yoga trainer], would not push or ward off the accused if she got pushed against the wall. If the prosecutrix [victim] had held her jaw firmly closed, how would it be possible for the accused [Mr. Tejpal] to put his tongue into her mouth? If the prosecutrix pushed the accused instinctively and reflexively, why wouldn’t she push the accused before he kissed her?”

He also pointed out portions on the behaviour of the victim during and before the incident.

The court quipped, “It is a kind of manual for rape victims, on the behaviour of victims. There is a case for considering leave for appeal.”

Mr. Mehta said there were details of the victim’s sexual history in the judgment, and the judge was a mute spectator to the defence divulging them.

He also urged the court to redact names of senior counsels who the victim approached before filing the complaint. However, the court said it was a vacation court and adjourned the matter to June 24. It admitted the appeal and issued notice to Mr. Tejpal.

Mr. Tejpal had been acquitted of offences under 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) of the Indian Penal Code.

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