Tehelka Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal, accused of sexually assaulting a junior colleague, filed an application before a court on Thursday seeking in-camera hearing of his bail plea.
District and Sessions Judge Anuja Prabhudesai reserved her order on the application till Friday afternoon.
Tejpal, charged with sexual assault at a five-star hotel in Bambolim in north Goa early last month, is presently in judicial custody in Sada sub-jail in Vasco, south Goa.
While his application for “in-camera” proceedings was opposed by the prosecution, it did not oppose the plea for presence of the accused in the court during the hearing.
In her plea, Tejpal’s lawyer Geeta Luthra said that the Criminal Procedure Code was amended in 1983 so that all cases pertaining to charges of rape are heard in camera — not only trial but also inquiry. She further argued that bail can be at any stage of investigation, inquiry or trial. Till the charges are framed, it would be an inquiry, she argued.
She ridiculed the argument of lack of transparency raised by the prosecution while opposing the in-camera proceedings. She further argued that the amendment was brought to Section 376 of Cr.PC to deal with matters of such sensitive nature by holding the proceedings in camera.
She said that they would like to contest and factually counter all the evidence being put before in documents, including statements registered under Section 164 and 161 of Cr.PC and various other aspects like CCTV coverage brought on record by the prosecution, during the proceedings and feared that they may look like victimising the victim though the intention would never be to hurt her sensibilities.
Opposing the plea for in-camera proceedings, advocate Sarat Lotlikar, on behalf of the prosecution, argued that the Section was not amended for the advantage of accused but to protect the interest of the victim. Meanwhile, in their submission to the court on Thursday, the prosecution, said it had so far recorded statements of 50 witnesses, including Shoma Chowdhary and staff members of Tehelka. On Thursday, statements of two journalists were recorded at the JMFC Court here.
Relying on earlier statements made by the victim that the daughter of the accused had made an attempt to persuade the mother of the victim “to settle the matter across the table,” the prosecution expressed the apprehension that the witnesses may be tempted and even intimidated by Tejpal once he is out on bail.