Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal cannot evade jail under the pretext of doing penance, Communist Party of India (Marxist) politbureau member Brinda Karat said on Thursday.

On a colleague’s complaint of sexual harassment against him, Mr. Tejpal stepped aside on Wednesday for six months. He told the magazine’s managing editor that he wanted to atone for his act.

“This person [Mr. Tejpal] says today that he will not work for six months and do penance. He should do penance in jail,” Ms. Karat said at a rally of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).

“Whatever atonement there is, it should be within the framework of law and a concrete accusation against him will get him many years in jail. Jail is the best place for his atonement. We are upset because the magazine has always reflected a democratic alternative point of view, which is different from the mainstream media. Therefore, his action has let down a much larger constituency,” she told The Hindu later.

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