A sessions court in Mapusa, Goa has acquitted former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine Tarun Tejpal, 58, who was accused of rape in 2013. Public Prosecutor Francisco Tavera said the state is ‘seriously aggrieved’ by the judgment and will be challenging it.
The woman had alleged that he had sexually assaulted her inside a lift in Goa while they were both there for an event. The verdict was delivered by Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi.
While the charge was framed in the case in 2014, it was only in 2018 that the trial began. The prosecution had examined 71 witnesses and the defence four, some of whom were present at the event where the incident took place. The trial had picked pace only past September 2020 when the court began to hear the matter on a day-to-day basis.
The victim had gone through an extensive cross-examination which ran into 700 pages. It had begun in March last year, but was interrupted due to the pandemic. The court had then directed her to come back to Goa in September for the cross-examination to continue, but due to professional commitments in another city, she could not. Thereafter, it continued, lasting a month proceeding on a day-to-day basis from 7 December last year. Tejpal’s lead lawyer Rajeev Gomes who conducted the cross-examination succumbed to COVID-19 recently.
Over the years, the former editor had hired top lawyers to defend him, including Shrikant Shivade who counts among his clients actor Salman Khan and had represented him in the hit-and-run case. Tejpal had been arrested on 30 November 2013 and had been granted bail by the top court on 1 July the following year.