Court to decide on Tejpal’s bail plea by evening
The sessions court in Goa will decide on the anticipatory bail application filed by Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday, after both the parties completed their arguments in the morning session.
Mr. Tejpal is accused of sexually assaulting the junior female reporter during Tehelka’s literary fest called ThinkFest at Hotel Grand Hyatt in Panaji, a fortnight ago.
Mr. Tejpal’s lawyer Geeta Luthra argued that the police must be able to justify the arrest of an accused despite the fact that they have the power to do so.
“He (Mr. Tejpal) is willing to cooperate with the authorities on court’s terms. He will do as police wants him to do, even stay in Goa for time period required by them,” she told sessions judge Anuja Prabhudesai. Ms. Luthra referred to various judgments from the Supreme Court where the anticipatory bail was granted in the alleged cases of rapes.
The Special Public Prosecutor Saresh Lotalikar argued that the victim’s statement in the case has remained unchanged right from the start. While the version of the accused kept changing.
“The accused is like a chameleon, who changes his colour every now and then,” he said.
He countered the Defence argument that Mr. Tejpal is cooperating with the authorities. “His cooperation seems to be coming on his own terms. He was not available at his home when Goa police went there,” he said. Mr. Lotalikar even accused Mr Tejpal of trying to keep matter sub-judice to avoid arrest.
Countering Ms. Luthra’s claims that the present rape law is draconian, he said that no matter what she feels about the law, Mr. Tejpal will have to deal with the present law of the state.
“We require the custodial interrogation for truth to come out,” he argued. The state argued that Mr. Tejpal is trying influence the victim’s family members as he is in the position of influence.
Mr. Tejpal’s lawyer however countered the state’s argument saying that he will cooperate on court’s terms and not on his own.
Meanwhile, sessions judge Ms Prabhudesai made it clear that she will not be entertaining any arguments alleging political interference in this case. She will announce the order on the anticipatory bail application at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday.
Meanwhile person wearing the flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party tried to throw a black cloth on Mr. Tejpal’s car outside the session court here. However the police immediately detained the person
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.
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 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.