Tarun Tejpal case judgment will deter rape victims from fighting case, say women’s groups, activists, academicians

Former journalist Tarun Tejpal arrives for the verdict hearing of the sexual assault case in which he is accused of raping a female journalist in the lift of a five-star hotel in Goa in November 2013, at the district court of Mapusa in Goa on May 21, 2021. Tejpal has been acquited of the rape charge.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The judgment acquitting Tarun Tejpal by a Goa court will deter women from fighting rape cases as it puts the survivor, and not the accused, in the dock, say over 300 women's groups, activists and academicians in a joint statement.

Last month, a sessions court in Goa acquitted former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal of all charges in a 2013 rape case involving a junior colleague. The judgment has been widely criticised for detailing the woman complainant’s WhatsApp chats, email messages and past relationships to discredit her as an unreliable witness. The Goa government has appealed against the judgment.

Also read: ‘Seems like a manual for rape victims’: Bombay HC on Tarun Tejpal case verdict

"The judgment showcases the kind of gruelling trial that a survivor of sexual assault has to face in an insensitive court atmosphere and the relentless, cruel and often scandalous, illegal and irrelevant cross examination that a prosecutrix also faces," according to the joint statement.

The signatories of the statement include organisations like All India Democratic Women's Association, All India Progressive Women's Association, Forum Against Oppression of Women as well as ex- MP Subhasini Ali, JNU's Prabhat Patnaik and Arundhati Dhuru of National Alliance of People's Movement.

The statement condemns the judgment for conducting an inquiry into every aspect of the survivor's private life, "while no such wide evidence of the accused and his interactions were placed on record at all."

It questions why the judgment failed to recognise an apology tendered by Tejpal to the survivor as an evidence. "This displays an unreasonable latitude to any acts by the accused," argues the press statement.

The judgment is a "failure to follow precedent and prevailing law in letter and spirit" as it disregards previous Supreme Court judgments that don't allow humiliating questions to be put to a rape survivor as well as in the manner in which it probes the character of the rape survivor and previous sexual history, they say.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 12:38:13 AM |

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