Tejpal’s bail plea hearing over, order by evening

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Panaji, November 30:  The Goa court hearing Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal’s anticipatory bail plea on Saturday adjourned till 4.30 after arguments.

Mr. Tejpal’s lawyer Geeta Luthra continued her arguments before judge Anuja Prabhudesai, who had on Friday given the Tehelka editor interim protection till this morning against arrest in the case of alleged sexual assault on a woman journalist in the magazine.

Mr. Tejpal was present in the court on Saturday. The public prosecutor will later submit arguments.

Ahead of hearing on his bail petition, Mr. Tejpal visited the Crime Branch office in Panaji this morning and said he was cooperating in the investigation.

Police sources said Mr. Tejpal was not quizzed and stayed for 10 minutes.

“We have joined the investigation started by the Crime Branch yesterday. We will join today also,” Mr. Tejpal told reporters after coming out of the office.

Mr. Tejpal had on Friday appeared before the Crime Branch after dodging a combined team of Goa and Delhi police that visited his house in Delhi at the crack of dawn to arrest him.

During arguments yesterday, Ms. Luthra had contended that Mr. Tejpal was a man of high integrity and reputation and that the CCTV footage of the hotel will exonerate him.

The complaint from the victim, who was seen normal even after the alleged incident, came 10 days after the said episode, she had argued.

Arguments in court

Arguing in court on Saturday, Ms. Luthra said Mr. Tejpal was ready to stay in Goa till the time it was required by the investigating agency.

She said he will also not visit Mumbai, where the victim is currently residing.

“There should not be any fear that he (Tejpal) will tamper with witnesses or evidence,” the defence lawyer said.

Ms. Luthra also ruled out the possibility of Mr. Tejpal fleeing the country saying he has not fled before the FIR or after that.

“My client cannot tamper with the aggrieved girl as she will stand by her statement,” the lawyer said.

Wrapping up her arguments, Ms. Luthra said false allegation of rape can bring distress to the accused and cause equal damage to him as to the complainant.

She said as the rape law has become more stringent, so it all the more required for the accused to defend himself for which “his liberty may be preserved”.

Public Prosecutor (PP) Saresh Lotlikar argued that prima facie a case is established against Mr. Tejpal and so the police want his custodial interrogation.

“The accused has been changing colours like a chameleon through different statements,” he said.

The PP noted that the victim has been consistent in her statements.

Mr. Lotlikar said the CCTV footage of the hotel in Goa where the incident occurred early this month gives enough hints confirming the allegation of rape.

The public prosecutor also argued that Mr. Tejpal was not available for Goa Police and appeared only after getting interim relief from court.

The PP argued that the accused should be in police custody so that he can be properly interrogated. He said Mr. Tejpal has been changing his version and is now saying that he has not been heard.

The public prosecutor alleged that Mr. Tejpal has in the past tried to influence the family of the complainant and referred to an FIR filed in Delhi in this regard. That the accused is interfering in the investigation is well corroborated by his past conduct, he said.

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