Panaji: A District and Sessions Court at Goa acquitted former editor-in-chief of Tehelka Tarun Tejpal who was accused of rape charges by a junior colleague.
He was accused of forcing himself on the woman, against her wishes, inside an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa on November 7 and 8, 2013, during the newsmagazine's official event - the THiNK 13 festival. He subsequently stepped down as editor of Tehelka on November 20, three days before the Goa Police filed a First Information Report against him accusing him of rape.
Later, he was booked under sections 376 (rape), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement) 354A (sexual harassment) and 354B (criminal assault), of the Indian Penal Code.
Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi had reserved her verdict in the seven-year-old case, last month. The trial was held in-camera at Tejpal's instance. The court had adjourned the pronouncement of judgment thrice, citing various reasons.
"He has been acquitted from all charges. Order not given yet. It will be uploaded later," Tejpal's defence counsel said.
In a statement, Tejpal said: "The past seven and a half years have been traumatic for my family as we have dealt with the catastrophic fallout of these false allegations on every aspect of our personal professional and public lives. We have felt the boot of the state, but through it all, we have cooperated fully with the Goa Police and the legal system, through hundreds of hours of court proceedings".
"We have unwaveringly followed every mandate of due procedure and abided by every principle of law laid down in the Constitution. We have also endeavoured to uphold every norm of decency expected in a case like this," Tejpal said in a written statement while thanking the court for its "rigorous, impartial and fair trial".
Tejpal was arrested on November 30, after a local court rejected his anticipatory bail application. After his arrest, Tejpal spent nearly eight months in police and judicial custody. He was later released on bail by the Supreme Court, months after a 2,846-page charge sheet by the Crime Branch of the Goa Police.
Charges against Tejpal were later framed by the trial court in Goa in 2017, paving way for the trial.
Special Public Prosecutor Francisco Tavora assisted by advocate Cyndiana D'Silva represented the Goa Police while Advocates Rajeev Gomes and Amir Khan represented Tejpal in the case.
He had earlier moved the Bombay High Court, seeking a stay on the framing of charges against him, but his petition was dismissed.