Supreme Court Justice L Nageswara Rao on Friday recused himself from hearing the plea filed by former editor of Tehelka magazine Tarun Tejpal in a 2013 rape case, reported Bar and Bench. Tejpal has challenged a Bombay High Court order that rejected his petition to hold in-camera proceedings during the hearing of the plea against his acquittal in the rape case.

“I had appeared for the [Goa] state in 2015,” Rao said on Friday. “Please list this before some other court.”

The hearing has been postponed.

Tejpal was accused of raping a junior colleague in an elevator in 2013. A sessions court acquitted him in the case on May 21. On May 25, the Goa government moved the Bombay High Court against the verdict.

Tejpal had then moved the High Court seeking an in-camera hearing of the petition against his acquittal.

Senior Advocate Amit Desai, appearing for Tejpal, had claimed that such a request has been placed before the court because of the sensitivity of the allegations against his client. “This is not adversarial, I believe,” Desai had said.

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Goa government, had opposed the request. “The country has a right to know what happened with the girl, who came with a complaint, precise facts, corroborative evidence,” Mehta had said.

The High Court held that Section 327(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code would only be applicable to an “inquiry” or “trial” but not to appeals either against conviction or an application seeking leave to file appeal against acquittal.

The section states that the inquiry into a trial for rape be conducted in camera, given that the judge may, if he thinks fit or on an application made by either of the parties, allow any particular person to remain in the room or building used by the court.

The High Court had said Tejpal’s contention that his right to defend himself is taken away if he was not allowed to freely argue his case, fearing its publication, was not justified.

In its order on May 21 acquitting Tejpal, the district and sessions court of Mapusa in Goa had claimed that the complainant had not shown the “kind of normative behaviour” expected from her, among other things.

In her 527-page judgement, Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi had noted that Tejpal was granted “benefit of doubt” in the absence of corroborative evidence to support the allegations made by the complainant.

In its appeal, the Goa government had said that the trial court’s judgement was “coloured by prejudice and patriarchy”.