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The Supreme Court today reserved its order on the plea filed by former editor of Tehelka magazine Tarun Tejpal for quashing of charges against him in a sexual assault case.
Tejpal who is accused of sexual assault by a journalist from Tehelka magazine claimed that the allegations made against him are false and fabricated and the charges deserve to be quashed. His junior colleague had accused Tejpal of sexually assaulting her in the elevator of a high-end Hotel in Goa.
When the matter was placed before the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah, and BR Gavai today, Senior Counsel Vikas Singh arguing for Tejpal submitted that the claims made by the prosecutrix do not find backing in the CCTV footage from the place where the offence is alleged to have been committed.
While attempting to disprove the claims of the prosecutrix, Vikas Singh says that she cannot be believed as the footage from the CCTV suggests that the prosecutrix “was seen going after Tejpal”. He further claimed that any person could have made allegations about what happened in the lift that day.
Singh also claimed to have accessed certain WhatsApp messages of the prosecutrix which, he claims, prove the charges false. He adds, however, that these messages were kept hidden by the Police.
The Bench questioned Singh as to why he tendered ab apology to the prosecutrix if nothing had happened. Referring to the emails exchanged between Tejpal and the prosecutrix which form part of evidence, Justice Mishra said,
“if this is your defence, then why apologize to the girl… at a time when there was no police complaint also? If the complaint is manufactured, why apologize? Something was there for which you tendered an apology. in case nothing has happened then you need not have tendered an apology also.”
The apology was to settle the matter, Singh answered.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, in his brief submissions, argued that the law states that even a strong suspicion regarding commission of the offence is enough to frame charges. Mehta added that a “mini-trial” cannot be allowed at a stage where charges have not even been framed.
The Bench then went on to reserve its order in the case.
Tejpal who is currently out on bail was arrested in November 2013 and a Trial Court in Goa had framed charges against him under various provisions of the Indian penal Code including under Section 376(2) for rape. in Supreme Court, Tejpal has sought to be discharged from the charges.