The fast-track court of Goa, while hearing a rape-victim’s plea against the Tehelka Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal, passed an acquittal order and discharged the accused from the sexual assault allegations.
In the instant case, Tarun Tejpal had been alleged to have force himself on his junior colleague, against her consent, inside an elevator of a hotel during a THiNK 13 event organized by a company.
The accused was facing a trial for a number of offences punishable under Indian Penal Code, including Sections 354 and 376. The bench made few observations which have been listed below.
The bench observed that the prosecuterix did not demonstrate a rape victim’s behaviour as the evidences placed before the court showed her being in her normative behaviour after two consecutive nights of alleged sexual assault.
The bench stated that the prosecuterix came to Goa to be a part of THiNK festival and observed that the WhatsApp messages showed her intention of staying back in Goa post the festival not because she had been traumatized by the accused’s behaviour but because she always had plans of staying back in Goa. The bench observed that the prosecuterix claims were false.
The bench went on to make adverse remarks against the victim’s mother and observed that her mother didn’t change her plans after learning about the alleged assault.
The bench relied upon the WhatsApp messages for this and stated that such circumstantial evidence does not support prosecuterix case and her testimony couldn’t be relied upon without corroboration and hence, appeared as flaw while considering the facts and circumstances.
The bench also pointed out a possibility of doctoring the evidence and the events. Moreover, the counsel on behalf of accused submitted that the evidence placed by the prosecuterix need to be scrutinised from different angles as well.
The bench also held the voluntary communication which had been made by the prosecuterix with the accused after the alleged incident. The bench stated that such voluntary communication initiated by the prosecuterix did not showcase her traumatised behaviour.
The bench held that the prosecution failed to discharge the burden of proving the guilt of accused and thus acquitted the accused. Presently, Goa government has filed a leave to appeal in Bombay HC against the acquittal order.