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"The Judgement Appears To Provide a Manual On How Rape Victims Should Behave."Bombay High Court Issues Notice On State's Appeal Against Acquittal Of Tarun Tejpal In Rape Case

Sharmeen Hakim
2 Jun 2021 6:58 AM GMT
The Judgement Appears To Provide a Manual On How Rape Victims Should Behave.Bombay High Court Issues Notice On States Appeal Against Acquittal Of Tarun Tejpal In Rape Case
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The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court issued notice to Tarun Tejpal, co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka Magazine in the State's appeal challenging his acquittal in the 2013 sexual assault case. Justice SC Gupte issued notice, returnable on June 24 and called for all papers and proceedings from the Sessions Court, till then.The court said a prima facie case was made out...

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The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court issued notice to Tarun Tejpal, co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka Magazine in the State's appeal challenging his acquittal in the 2013 sexual assault case.

Justice SC Gupte issued notice, returnable on June 24 and called for all papers and proceedings from the Sessions Court, till then.

The court said a prima facie case was made out for considering leave.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar said the judgement and the trial court's approach shows a complete lack of sensitivity and knowledge on the subject of crime against women.

"The law has evolved. The entire judgement proceeds as if the victim is on trial."

Justice Gupte sarcastically added that the judgement "appears to provide a manual on how rape victims should behave."

Mehta said, "There is a reference that the accused consulted senior lawyers Indira Jaising and Rebecca John. This conduct has seriously gone against the victim. If this girl would have approached me I would have asked her to consult them. They are feminists.

I pose a question to myself, in this country, is being a feminist is a negative thing? A feminist is a person who fights for equal rights. I am a feminist. This judgement would travel throughout the world. No sexually offended women would take to take the legal route. Please make the notice retunable as soon as possible."

The bench then issued notice to Tejpal on the appeal.

Tejpal, co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka Magazine was acquitted of all charges on May 21 by a fast track court in Mapusa, Goa. He was accused of forcing himself on his junior colleague against her wishes, inside an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa on November 7 and 8, 2013, during the magazine's official event - the THiNK 13 festival.

In her 527-page judgement, Special Judge Kshama Joshi extensively commented on the woman's non-rape victim like behaviour and faulty investigation to grant Tejpal the benefit of the doubt.

On May 27, a vacation bench of Justice SC Gupte directed the trial court to redact all references revealing the victim's identity while uploading the order on its website and permitted the Goa Government to amend its' Leave to Appeal.'

In its amended grounds for appeal u/s 378 of the CrPC the Goa Government has cited the trial court's lack of understanding of a rape victim's post-trauma behavior, using her past sexual history and education as legal bias against her, and making observations driven by "patriarchy" to challenge the judgment acquitting journalist Tarun Tejpal. It has also kept the option of re-trial open.

The appeal also seeks expunging of all such portions of the victim's evidence that are not in conformity with Sections 53A and 146 of the Indian Evidence Act. These sections make it inadmissible and impermissible to ask questions about a victim's past sexual history when issues regarding consent are involved.

He was tried for committing offences punishable under IPC Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (sexual harassment), 354A(1)(I)(II)(demand for sexual favours), 354B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 376 (2)(f) (person in a position of authority over women, committing rape) and 376(2)(k) (rape by a person in a position of control).

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