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Tarun Tejpal acquittal: Judge ‘did not apply mind’, order ‘coloured by prejudice, patriarchy’, says Goa govt

Bombay High Court is expected to hear amended appeal on Wednesday. The appeal, filed before the High Court's Goa bench, was amended this week to bring on record the judgement and to include further grounds against the acquittal of Tarun Tejpal.

Tarun Tejpal acquittal: Judge did not apply mind, order coloured by prejudice, patriarchy, says Goa govt-dnm
Panaji, First Published Jun 2, 2021, 10:11 AM IST
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Panaji: The Goa government, in its amended application before the high court of Bombay at Goa, has sought a retrial of the rape case against Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal, contending that the judge didn’t apply her mind while delivering the judgment that acquitted him.

The Goa government in its amended appeal stated that the trial court had disbelieved the woman “on the basis of a conception of how a victim is expected to behave while being sexually assaulted”. This finding of the court, the state government said, was “unsustainable in law and is coloured by prejudice and patriarchy”.

The government 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 a doubt".

On May 21, sessions judge Kshama Joshi acquitted Tarun Tejpal, former editor-in-chief of the Tehelka magazine, 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 in its judgement questioned the woman's conduct, noting she did not exhibit any kind of "normative behaviour" such as trauma and shock which a person of sexual assault might plausibly show.

The state government also said that the trial court had cast aspersions on the investigating officer with regard to the seizure of the DVRs on November 29, 2013 and has further suggested that the investigating officer had destroyed CCTV footage of the first floor of November 7, 2013.

"The trial court has ignored the fact that the original DVRs are deposited before the court and have also been forensically examined by CFSL, Hyderabad, first at the request of the police, and then, subsequently, pursuant to the order of the apex court," the state said.

Referring to the judgment that mentions "drunken banter" between the accused and the survivor, the application pointed out, "Merely because the prosecutrix chose to remain silent on the repeated attempts of the accused to create a defence for himself does not lead to the automatic inference that the prosecutrix had accepted his version".

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