Goa court to decide on anticipatory bail plea on Saturday

Tehelka Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal, who faces charges of sexually assaulting a young woman colleague, was on Friday granted interim bail till 10 a.m. on Saturday by sessions judge Anuja Prabhudesai. That is when the court will rule on Mr. Tejpal’s anticipatory bail petition.

Mr. Tejpal, who arrived in Goa on Friday evening, had filed for anticipatory bail in the morning through his lawyers. He was granted interim bail till the court reconvened at 2.30 p.m. By evening, Judge Prabhudesai extended his interim bail till Saturday morning. BJP workers demonstrated at Dabolim airport ahead of Mr. Tejpal’s arrival.

Goa Police sources told The Hindu: “We cannot arrest him at the moment but we are keeping a close eye on him.”

In court, Mr. Tejpal’s lawyer Geeta Luthra said there was no need to take Mr. Tejpal into custody because he would cooperate with the investigation. She argued the complaint against him was “fabricated” and that the police were not acting in a fair manner because of interference from “vested political interests.” Ms. Luthra also claimed the victim behaved normally after the alleged incident and did not look disturbed. Court proceedings ended before the police could begin their arguments.

Judge Prabhudesai said: “I am only concerned about the crime, not about the conduct of the victim or the statements made by others about the incident.” At one point she pulled up Ms. Luthra for revealing the victim’s name in court. “I will not tolerate such mistakes. Are you trying to malign the victim?” Judge Prabhudesai asked.

Meanwhile, the woman journalist released a statement to the media rejecting the charge that her complaint was politically motivated. “I am deeply concerned and very disturbed by insinuations that my complaint is part of a pre-election strategy… I call upon political parties to resist the temptation to turn a very important discussion about gender, power and violence into a conversation about themselves,” she said.

Her statement stressed the alleged crime went beyond sexual assault. “In this case the law is clear: What Mr. Tejpal did to me falls within the legal definition of rape.”

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