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Tehelka scandal: Tejpal faces arrest after being booked for rape

Nov 22, 2013 18:14 IST

#India   #NewsTracker   #Shoma Chaudhury   #Tarun Tejpal   #Tehelka   #Urvashi Butalia  

Panaji/New Delhi: Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal on Friday faced possible arrest after Goa Police booked him for rape following an allegation by a journalist colleague that he sexually assaulted her during an event a fortnight ago.

A special investigating team of the Crime Branch police will be in Delhi for questioning Tejpal and police are not ruling out arrest.

Tehelka's former editor Tarun Tejpal. AFP

Tehelka's former editor Tarun Tejpal. AFP

"An FIR has been filed on charges of rape and outraging of modesty (against Tejpal). This is one part of the process of investigation and law will take its course," DGP Kishan Kumar said in Panaji.

The charges relate to Sections 376 (rape), 376 (2) (rape by a person of a woman in his custody taking advantage of his official position) and 354 (outraging modesty) of IPC, he said.

Asked whether Tejpal would be arrested, the DGP said, "As I told you this is a matter of investigation. Let us leave it to Investigating Officers. It is a process under law which has logical consequences. I cannot say how the IO will do."

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar made it clear that his government will show "no tolerance for this type of crime and we should crackdown on such high-profile crimes".

He said Goa police has not received any response from Tehelka to the letter sent to it seeking details of the alleged incident.

"I am not saying someone is guilty but the girl's email (to her office) is explicit," he said and commended her for showing courage to report the incident.

While Tejpal issued a statement offering to extend the "fullest cooperation" to the police and all other authorities, the magazine's Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury said they would not go to police on the issue as it was for the victim to decide on it.

Facing allegations that Tehelka was indulging in a cover-up, Chaudhury defended her actions in the matter saying she had confronted Tejpal about the incident "very very angrily", after which he stepped down from his post for six months and apologised to the victim.

"The right to go to police is hers (victim's). I am not going to the police on my own," she said, adding she will cooperate in the probe as long as she is in the post. "If it is hard for me to cooperate, then I will step down," Chaudhury said.

She came under fresh attack when she referred to her conversation with Tejpal who has a "different version" of the incident which she claimed to have overruled when getting his apology.

"I do feel a sense of outrage and betrayal but he has a different version," she said.

Asked if Tehelka which claims to have set high standards in its investigation reports was following double standards in this case, Chaudhury said a three-member committee has been set up which will hear both the sides.

"You are jumping to conclusions that it is sexual assault and rape," she shot back. To another question that the committee is a cosy-club as it is headed by Urvashi Butalia, a friend of Tejpal, she said the media was pre-judging the issue.

Asked whether the magazine should have reported the case to the police, the Chief Minister said "they are bound to do".

He said police have complete authority to investigate the sexual assault case against Tejpal and they should not worry about the stature of the person involved.

"I have given complete authority to the police to investigate the case. I have told them don't worry whether the person is low profile or high profile. Stature does not count. What counts is the crime. You go by what is correct in law," the Chief Minister said.

Asked about Tehelka's position that they would not lodge a complaint on their own, Parrikar said, "I don't think that is the legal position. Police will take appropriate action."

He said under a Supreme Court judgement police have a duty to file an FIR in accordance with law in cognisable offences.

On how the Goa police have now proceeded to file an FIR, the DGP said that under Section 154 of CrPC they have powers to act on information in cognisable offences. "There has to be information. We have taken action on our own," Kumar said.

The alleged incident happened in a lift in a five star hotel in Goa earlier this month.

DIG OP Mishra said the CCTV footage was received from the hotel last evening and was preserved. The details of the incident can only be known after examining the footage, he said.

Tejpal too "urged" the committee and the police "to obtain, examine and release the CCTV footage so that the accurate version of events stands clearly revealed."

"I offer my fullest cooperation to the police and all other authorities, and look to presenting all the facts of this incident to it," the founder-Editor of Tehelka said.

Police have already written to the Tehelka management, asking for the documents including email of the victim and the statement by Tejpal.

PTI

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