Bombay HC issues notice to Tarun Tejpal, criticises lower court’s handling of sexual assault case

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI:  The Bombay High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to senior journalist Tarun Tejpal on the appeal filed by the Goa government against his recent acquittal in the 2013 rape case.

The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court orally observed that the sessions court’s judgment acquitting journalist Tarun Tejpal was like a ‘manual for rape victims’ as it goes into how a victim should respond in such cases.

The judge observed that there is a prima facie case made out against Tejpal in the appeal and asked  for all records from the trial court to be sent to the high court and slated the hearing for June 24.

In its appeal challenging the acquittal of Tejpal, the Goa government has said that it was a fit case for retrial, citing the trial court’s lack of understanding of a victim’s post-trauma behaviour and censuring of her character.

The Goa government has said the trial court “considered the evidence given by defence witnesses as gospel truth, but at the same time discredited without any finding the evidence given by the victim and the prosecution witnesses”.

It also claimed that the trial court completely ignored the most telling piece of evidence in the case (the apology e-mail) “which established the guilt of the accused beyond a shadow of doubt”.

On May 21, sessions judge Kshama Joshi acquitted Tejpal in the case where he was accused of sexually assaulting his then woman colleague in a lift of a five-star hotel in Goa in November 2013 when they were attending an event.

The trial court had questioned the woman’s conduct, noting she did not exhibit any kind of “normative behaviour” such as trauma and shock which a victim of sexual assault might plausibly show.

Subsequently,  the Goa government filed an appeal before the high Court calling for the setting aside of the acquittal order and seeking a retrial.