The vacation bench in Goa of the Bombay High Court on Thursday adjourned till June 2 the 2013 sexual assault case against former Tehelka magazine editor Tarun Tejpal, reported The Times of India. The court had taken up the Goa government’s counter appeal of a judgement passed last week, which acquitted Tejpal in the case.

Tejpal was accused of raping a junior colleague in an elevator in 2013. The sessions court acquitted him in the case on May 21. The Goa government had on Tuesday moved the Bombay High Court against the acquittal of the journalist.

The Goa bench of the High Court on Thursday ordered the sessions court to remove all references disclosing the identity of the woman before uploading it, reported PTI.

During the proceedings, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Goa government, said that the observations of the lower court and most of the findings related to the complainant were astonishing.

“The judgement, which is yet to be uploaded on the court’s website and made public, also in various paragraphs discloses the identity of the victim woman,” he said. “This is a criminal offence.”

Mehta pointed out that the verdict had also revealed the names of the woman’s mother and husband along with the complainant’s email ID. Following the High Court’s direction for redacting the information, the solicitor general said it was sad that the instruction had to be passed for a court order.

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The Goa government’s counsel also expressed disapproval about observations made about the involvement of senior lawyer Indira Jaising in the case.

“This girl who is [a] victim of sexual abuse, by [a] person who is father’s friend approached eminent counsel of Indira Jaising for advice,” Mehta said, according to Bar and Bench. “According to me it was right, approaching a lawyer of her repute. Then there is submission that this may have led to doctoring of events. To accuse a lawyer of her stature of doctoring?”

In its order on May 21, the district and sessions court of Mapusa in Goa said the complainant had not shown the “kind of normative behaviour” expected from her, among other things. In her 527-page judgment, Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi noted that Tejpal was granted “benefit of doubt” in the absence of corroborative evidence to support the allegations made by the complainant.

Tejpal was charged under Indian Penal Code sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty), 354-A (sexual harassment), 354-B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 376(2)(f) (person in a position of authority over women, committing rape) and 376(2)k) (rape by a person in a position of control).

Case history

The Goa Police had filed a chargesheet in the sexual assault case in 2014.

The trial began in September 2017 but was delayed repeatedly as Tejpal moved the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court against the allegations. Both the Supreme Court and the High Court had dismissed his petitions seeking to quash the rape charges against him.

In September 2017, a fast track trial court in Goa had charged Tejpal with rape, sexual harassment and wrongful restraint. He had pleaded not guilty. However, in an internal email, Tejpal had blamed the incident on a “lapse of judgement”.

The May 21 verdict was expected earlier but had been deferred multiple times. On May 19, when the ruling was deferred for two days, Tejpal’s lawyer cited electricity problems for the additional sessions court judge.

The court had also deferred the verdict on May 12, citing the lack of staff because of the coronavirus pandemic. Before that, the ruling was deferred on April 27.