In November 2013, Tehelka magazine's founder Tarun Tejpal stepped down as Editor for six months after a female colleague accused him of sexual assault. He was arrested on 30 November 2013 and was kept in prison for a few months. The victim was reportedly sexually assaulted by Tejpal on November 7 and the offence was allegedly repeated on November 8, 2014. The case came in public attention and media scrutiny.
I have closely covered the Tejpal case since 2013. I remember when the news broke everyone rushed to the Tejpal's office and his residence. The email exchanges between the management, Tarun Tejpal and the victim told the whole story.
Read here the unconditional apology to the victim repeated by Tarun Tejpal on various occasions-
"It wrenches me beyond describing, therefore, to accept that I have violated that long-standing relationship of trust and respect between us and I apologise unconditionally for the shameful lapse of judgement that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on 7 November and 8 November 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me. If an apology can heal, please consider this an unconditional."
Later, Tejpal's lawyer changed his statement and alleged the victim of having a "political motivation". He also claimed that it was a drunken banter.
Speaking in the matter, the victim also released a statement. Read some parts of it here -
"Unlike Mr. Tejpal, I am not a person of immense means. I have been raised singlehandedly by my mother's single income. My father's health has been very fragile for many years now. Unlike Mr. Tejpal, who is fighting to protect his wealth, his influence and his privilege, I am fighting to preserve nothing except for my integrity and my right to assert that my body is my own and not the plaything of my employer. By filing my complaint, I have lost not just a job that I loved, but much-needed financial security and the independence of my salary. I have also opened myself to personal and slanderous attack. This will not be an easy battle."
She further alleged that Tarun Tejpal had raped her:
"I don't know if I am ready to see myself as a "rape victim", for my colleagues, friends, supporters and critics to see me thus. It is not the victim that categorizes crimes: it is the law. And in this case, the law is clear: what Mr. Tejpal did to me falls within the legal definition of rape."
Following these allegations, Tejpal was arrested in November 2013. However, he held a secret meeting with top legal eagles and tooled advice from them. He was in prison for a few months, but now he is out on bail.
A 2,684-page charge sheet was filed before Chief Judicial Magistrate Anuja Prabhudesa in which 152 witnesses including the victim, staff of Tehelka magazine and the investigating officer in the case were examined. The charge sheet mentioned that there are enough statements on record to prove Tejpal guilty of rape, sexual harassment and outraging the modesty of the victim.
In September 2017, Republic Media Network was the first channel to track Tejpal down in Goa and also questioned him on three instances. However, as always, he was evasive of the questions. But on September 2017, despite all the delays and tactics, Tejpal was charged under Sections 376(2) (rape), 354A (sexual harassment) and 342 (wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
A small step in the right direction was taken. All efforts now to see rape trial is speedily completed and the truth comes out:
On August 19, opening a window for the victim, the Supreme Court dismissed the plea by Tarun Tejpal seeking quashing of charges in the sexual assault case lodged against him by the former woman colleague. During the hearing, the top court made some scathing observations when it said sexual assault is a very serious offence. The justices said this was morally abhorrent and since the charges were framed six years back, there can be no further delay. The apex court further directed the Goa court to complete the trial within six months in the case.
In its defence, the Goa court said that the trial will be resumed from September 23 against Tarun Tejpal, assuring that by March 2020, there will be a verdict in the matter. In the 7-year-old rape case with high and mighty political motives, the entire truth will finally come out.