PANAJI: Journalist Tarun Tejpal in a submission before the Bombay High Court on Tuesday sought an “in-camera” hearing of the Goa government’s petition challenging his acquittal in a 2013 rape case, and sought its dismissal while raising preliminary objections on its maintainability.
However, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Goa government, opposed Tejpal’s request for the ‘in-camera’ hearing, saying the “country has the right to know how the institution dealt with the girl (victim)”.
On May 21, a sessions court acquitted Tejpal, the former editor-in-chief of the Tehelka magazine, in the case where he was accused of sexually assaulting his then colleague in a lift of a five-star hotel in Goa in November 2013 when they were attending an event.
Later, the Goa government filed an appeal against it in the HC.
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On Tuesday, Tejpal’s lawyer Amit Desai requested the high court’s bench at Goa comprising Justices M S Sonak and M S Jawalkar to hold the hearing in-camera, as was done in the past during the trial of the case in the lower court.
He said the hearing should be held “in-camera”, considering the sensitivity of the matter and the allegations.
The lawyer said he has filed a formal application before the bench to consider the request.
Desai also questioned the maintainability of the petition filed by the state government, and sought to dismiss it, claiming it to be defective and not in compliance” with the procedure as mentioned under Criminal Procedure Code Section 378 (appeal in case of acquittal).
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that he would have to go through the application seeking ‘in-camera’ hearing of the case.
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“Normally, I would not have objected, but the way this institution has failed, leaving an inevitable impression upon all victims of sexual onslaught, that it has a deterrent effect amongst those who are potential victims,” he said.
“The country has the right to know how this institution has dealt with the girl who came before the court with a complaint, specific allegation, proofs and corroborative evidence,” he argued.
Desai said it was not right for Mehta to comment on the case until the final conclusion in the matter.
“We should not make comments on the institution of judiciary just because the Goa government did not appreciate the judgement,” he added.
The bench fixed August 31 for next hearing.
Both Mehta and Desai requested for the hearing through video-conferencing as they are not based in Goa.
The judges said their application for virtual hearing should be made to the Bombay High Court’s Chief Justice.