Court acquits Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal in rape case

Tarun Tejpal, founder and former editor of Tehelka magazine, has been acquitted of rape charges by a court in Goa.

After almost eight years of litigation on the charge of sexually assaulting a female colleague, Tejpal was finally acquitted of all the charges.

In 2017, the trial court had charged him with rape, sexual harassment, and wrongful confinement.

Tarun Tejpal challenged the charges in the Supreme Court, which had ordered the trial in Goa to continue.

Tarun Tejpal’s daughter Cara Tejpal read out a statement on her father’s behalf, which said he was “falsely accused” of sexual assault.

“It is with profound respect that I thank this court for its rigorous, impartial and fair trial and for its thorough examination of CCTV footage and other empirical material on record,” said Mr Tejpal, thanking his lawyer Rajiv Gomes, who recently died of Covid-19.

In a press note released Tarun Tejpal had said, “Seldom does a long-fought for vindication arrive hand-in-hand with profound heartbreak. Last week my trial lawyer, Rajeev Gomes, died of Covid. Dynamic and brilliant,  at 47 he was on the brink of a scintillating career as a criminal lawyer at the national level. No person fought harder, and with greater skill, to reclaim my life and reputation.  Rajeev used to say to me, ‘I enjoy money but I don’t work for it. I believe god put me on earth to fight for the innocent.’ As a family we owe Rajeev Gomes a profound and permanent debt. And we grieve alongside his wife Cheryl and his young son Sean. No client can ever hope for a better lawyer than Rajeev. The ever-struggling wheel of justice has lost a solid spoke,” he said.

“In November 2013 I was falsely accused of sexual assault by a colleague. Today the Hon’ble Trial Court of  Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi, in Goa, has honourably acquitted me. In an awfully vitiated age, where ordinary courage has become rare, I thank her for standing by the truth.

“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 co-operated fully with the Goa police and the legal system, through hundreds of court proceedings. We have unwaveringly followed every mandate of due procedure and abided by every principle of law as laid down in the Constitution. We have also endeavoured to uphold every norm of decency expected in a case like this,” he said.

“In these 8 years a host of outstanding lawyers came to our aid, and we owe them all a deep debt, prime among them Pramod Dubey, Aamir Khan, Ankur Chawla, Amit Desai, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Aman Lekhi, Sandeep Kapoor, Raian Karanjewala, and Shrikant Shivade.

“I also thank scores of family members and friends who kept the faith and stood by us through these dark years.

“I wish to make no further statement at this time and request my family’s privacy be respected, as we try and reclaim our broken lives. I will make a comprehensive statement at an appropriate time in the future,”Tejpal said in the press note.