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‘Needs further scrutiny’: High Court allows Goa to appeal Tejpal’s acquittal | Latest India News


PANAJI: The Bombay High Court in Goa on Saturday allowed the state government’s request for leave to appeal against the acquittal of former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal in the 2013 rape case against him, saying the order “requires further review and reassessment.”

Tejpal was accused of raping a junior colleague in the elevator of a five-star hotel in Goa during the THINK festival in November 2013. He was acquitted by the fast-track court on May 21 last year due to lack of evidence sufficient.

An application for leave to appeal has been made to the High Court as required by law under the Code of Criminal Procedure which states that “no appeal…shall be entertained except with leave of the High Court”.

“We believe that further consideration and reassessment may be warranted of the evidence of the Respondent’s (Tejpal) SMS, WhatsApp and email messages sent to the victim…this evidence must be assessed in the context of corroboration of the victim’s testimony in the case,” ruled the bench of the High Court Division of Judges MS Sonak and RN Laddha.

“Based on this evidence, perhaps some of the Extra Sessions Judges’ findings on the victim’s conduct may also require reconsideration. The inference of the victim’s conduct to consult with certain attorneys before filing his complaint may also require revisiting Finally, the assertion regarding the alleged confessions in the messages or the appropriate scope of such statements should also be considered… At this point, we might have preferred to record only a prima facie case facie has been established and arguable issues arise in the matter,” the high court added.

“At this stage, if the evidence on file reveals the need for further consideration and reassessment, review or reconsideration of the evidence, the Court of Appeal must grant the requested leave and rule on the merits of the appeal,” the High Court said.

Tejpal, through his lawyer Amit Desai, objected to the request claiming that due process was not followed, noting in particular the fact that the appeal was filed even before a certified true copy of the order was made available to the Crown, which he argued was evidence of non-enforcement. of mind when filing the appeal. In the present case, the judgment and the order under appeal were indeed pronounced on 21.05.2021, and even before its copy could be obtained, the appeal decision was taken on 24.05.2021, He specifies.

The High Court, however, rejected this claim.

“Based on the evidence on record, we do not believe that any case is established to infer non-enforcement of the spirit rendering such a decision void. While valid in certain circumstances, the assertion about haste and inference of non-application of the spirit cannot be mechanically drawn in all events and for all purposes,” the High Court said.

“A series of considerations are available to the state government in deciding whether or not to appeal an order of acquittal. A state government may legitimately harbor the perception that such an acquittal must be tested in the high court. Second, he may legitimately be under the impression that there was clear and compelling evidence in the record, on the basis of which no acquittal was possible. Third, the state government may legitimately feel that the Court of Sessions may not have properly assessed the law, particularly with respect to the burden of proof or the credibility of the testimony of ‘a victim. Finally, the state could have legitimately entertained the perception that such a decision was necessary to protect the identity of the victim,” the High Court said.

“…it is also possible that such a decision may, in a given case, be motivated by extraneous or even dishonest considerations. None were at least suggested during the arguments. But then all of that can certainly be considered when the court judicially considers the leave application,” the court noted.

The complainant alleged that Tejpal raped her in a hotel elevator on November 7, 2013, and attempted to assault her again on November 8.

In her ruling, the fast-track court judge gave Tejpal, who faces charges under Sections 376 (rape), 354A (sexual harassment), 354B (criminal assault with intent to undress a woman), 341 ( undue hardship) and 342 (undue hardship). detention) of the Indian Penal Code, the benefit of the doubt while acquitting him.

Earlier, the Bombay High Court in Goa rejected Tejpal’s request for a closed hearing of his appeal.