Sexual assault case: Goa Police books Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal for rape

Tehelka rape caseDelhi Police personnel at Tejpal’s Delhi home on Friday.
Accusing the founder and editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine, Tarun Tejpal, of assaulting and raping a colleague during a media event in the state, Goa Police Friday registered an FIR in the case and indicated that his arrest was imminent.

The police also did not rule out action against Tehelka's managing editor Shoma Chaudhury saying she was not cooperating with them in the probe as required by law and could be summoned to Goa.

Sources said a Goa Police team was expected in Delhi soon to question Tejpal, after which he is likely to be arrested.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said the FIR was registered based on reports that appeared in the traditional and social media after Tejpal announced Wednesday that he was stepping down as editor-in-chief for six months to atone for what he called an unfortunate incident.

"What was shown and heard in the media was found sufficient enough for the investigating agency to book an offence against Tejpal," Parrikar said. "A First Information Report in this case was registered, backed by the information we heard in the media reports. Now let the police collect enough evidence to prosecute."

In the FIR registered at the CID Crime Branch Police Station, Dona Paula, Tejpal is accused under IPC sections 354-A, 376, and 376 (2) (k) which cover rape, rape of a woman taking advantage of official position and outraging the modesty of a woman.

Parrikar had ordered the police to launch a preliminary enquiry Thursday and police had said that they would look for enough material to file an FIR in the absence of a complaint from the victim or her family.

DIG O P Mishra said the police did not waste any time on Wednesday after news of the case was widely reported in the media. Sources said "strong evidence" had been found to match the allegations of the victim, allowing for the FIR to be registered.

A police team is also expected to be sent to meet the victim in due course, the sources said, adding that statements to the media by Tejpal and Chaudhury were being recorded.

"When the news broke in the evening, we took charge after we noticed that the event where the incident seems to have allegedly happened was in Goan jurisdiction," Mishra said.

"The same evening, we ordered the hotel authorities that every clip of the hotel for the said period should be stocked and preserved and should not be released or touched or even deleted till further orders of Goa Police."

A special crime branch team then went "through all emails and every available information" in the social media.

"We have also taken into record the information in the email reply of Tejpal which is very crucial at this stage. With the information available in the three emails that were exchanged between the victim, Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury, there is sufficient ground to believe that the alleged offence has taken place," Mishra said.

"When Chaudhury was informed of a sexual offence, she is legally bound to report the matter to the police, which wasn't done. Taking the sensitivity and gravity of the allegations, we have decided to register an FIR."

DGP Kishan Kumar said the department sought extensive legal opinion to figure the charges in the case as police now have wider powers under new laws.

"There are two charges, of outraging the modesty of a woman and of rape. Further we have also added a section, based on the fiduciary relationship between the accused and the victim. The fact that she was an employee and he misused his authority cannot be ignored," Kumar said. "FIR is about setting the ball rolling. Now we have to collect evidence."

Parrikar reiterated that the police had a free hand in the case.

"I won't interfere with the investigation, and I won't direct any officer to do anything, except I have told them that there will be no pressure and whoever it may be, crime is a crime, go after the culprit," he said.

"The IO will decide the course of action under Supreme Court guidelines. I have just given one direction, don't be afraid of anyone, and investigate with all your might."

Parrikar said the probe was not focusing on just one lift at the hotel where Tejpal is alleged to have assaulted the journalist.

We don't know if the footage will be available to match the allegations given in the email sent by the victim. But that doesn't mean that if there is no footage available the police will keep silent. If an allegation has been made, then it will be chased to bring it to a logical conclusion," Parikar said. "Tejpal has to answer if he feels he is not guilty, then why did he send a reply asking for apology? He needs to explain his words."

"Any information on crime should be shared with the police. There are no two different views on that, it's the law of the country. The company should have informed and shared the information with the Goa Police," the CM added.

Police sources said investigators were also working to collect all messages available "on record" in the victim's phone. "For us to prove the misuse of fiduciary relationship and mental stress those SMSes are very critical. This will all be part of our evidence collection. We are trying to get them," said an officer.

The FIR also refers to Chaudhury and says Goa Police had sent her an email asking her to forward the complaint she received from the victim and other relevant information but she had failed to do so.

It says Goa Police then got in touch with her on her mobile phone and made the same request. "She informed she will go through the mail and do the needful in the matter," it says.

But sources said Chaudhury had not responded until Friday evening.

To ensure that she checks her email, the Goa Police also sent her a text message and subsequently called her. "But we have not got any response and have taken the emails on record based on what we found in the media," DIG Mishra said.

The Allegation: From the FIR

Goa police quote from victim's complaint to Tehelka

As we made our way out of the elevator of Block 7 at the Grand Hyatt, Mr Tejpal held my arm and pulled me back into the lift... I then realized that Mr Tejpal was simply pressing buttons... to make the elevator stay in circuit, preventing it from stopping anywhere, and for the doors to open. At this point, he began to kiss me...

Mr Tejpal lifted my dress up, went down on his knees and pulled my underwear down. He attempted to perform oral sex on me as I continued to struggle and hysterically asked him to stop. At that moment he began to try and penetrate me with his fingers...

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