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Tarun Tejpal case | Judge tried the woman, say activists

Vijaya Rahatkar. File Photo.

Vijaya Rahatkar. File Photo.

Activists and former chairpersons of the Maharashtra Commission for Women have condemned the judgment that acquitted journalist Tarun Tejpal in the case of sexual assault and rape. They said, “The judge has put the survivor on a trial and not the accused.”

On May 21, additional sessions judge Kshama Joshi at the Mapusa District and Sessions Court, Goa, acquitted Mr. Tejpal in the 2013 case, saying, “The prosecutrix’s [female victim] account neither demonstrates any kind of normative behaviour on her part – that a prosecutrix of sexual assault on consecutive nights might plausibly show, nor does it demonstrate any such behaviour on the part of the accused.”

 

Vijaya Rahatkar, former chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women, said, “It is very unfortunate that a woman judge has delivered such a judgment. In this case, the judge has put the survivor on trial instead of trying the accused. The judge has revealed the identity of the survivor even after so many judgments explicitly saying that the identity must be withheld. What is the relevance of going into the woman’s history and her past relationships? Judgments like these discourage women to come forward and report cases of sexual assault and rape. Judges are hearing these cases with a prejudiced mind and should not be allowed to hear cases of sexual assault.”

Activist Sandhya Gokhale said, “The survivor is being tried in this case. The judge has overlooked all the Supreme Court judgments and commented on the fact that the survivor was an intelligent and physically fit woman so how she did not ward off the accused. These traits have gone against her. This is travesty of justice and the judge needs to step down from hearing any more cases of sexual assault. The judge did not abide by the Criminal Law Amendment Act after the 2012 Delhi rape case (to punish sex crimes)”.

‘Very disturbing’

Hasina Khan, who is associated with Bebaak Collective, a group that speaks up for women’s rights, said, “The judgment is very disturbing and the Collective condemns it. The judge has got into the survivor’s sexual history. In this trial, the accused is treated as a victim and the survivor is not protected at all. The judgment has spoken about the survivor’s behaviour post the incident and implied that the survivor was “available”. It is shocking to see that her dignity is questioned.”

 

Commenting on the ‘faulty’ investigation in the case, Susieben Shah, former chairperson of the commission, said, “Apart from the shocking remarks made by the judge on the survivor, the prosecution had no legs to stand on in a court of law. I think in cases of sexual assault and rape, activists, non-governmental organisations and spirited individuals must come together and help fight for the survivor.”


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Printable version | Jun 26, 2022 10:58:22 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/tarun-tejpal-case-judge-tried-the-woman-say-activists/article60680313.ece