Two articles, one by senior journalist Manu Joseph in The Outlook and the other in the online newspaper The Citizen, analysing the CCTV footage in the rape case against the former Tehelka Editor, Tarun Tejpal, have led to uproar, raising questions about the legality of making the evidence public.
The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) has written to the Press Council of India and the Editors’ Guild, terming the pieces “illegal and unethical.” It has also sought an apology from the two publications.
The NWMI said it was “shocked and disturbed by these articles by senior journalists which appear to be part of an orchestrated campaign to prejudice the ongoing case and discredit the young journalist who accused her boss of sexual violence that amounts to rape under the new amendment passed in April 2013.”
Tejpal has been lodged in a Goa jail on the charge of rape since December 2013, after a Tehelka staffer alleged that he had sexually assaulted her in a lift in a Goa hotel during the Thinkfest event organised by the magazine last November.
Activist and lawyer Vrinda Grover contended that by showing the CCTV footage from the hotel cameras to journalists, Tejpal’s close associates had violated the law. “We are not supposed to see that footage because it reveals the identity of the woman journalist. That is the law,” she wrote on Facebook.
Seeking to justify his piece, Mr. Joseph posted on Facebook: “I decided to write the story because I thought it was an important story to attempt… Journalists did not want to touch this story because it had become toxic. For many Tejpal was the villain…”
Outlook Editor Krishna Prasad also defended his decision to run the piece, which he said was a “balanced and nuanced journalistic exercise into a sensitive story and represents all points of view, including that of the prosecution.”