Panaji: A Goa court today framed charges of rape and wrongful confinement against Tarun Tejpal, the founder of Tehelka magazine, in connection with an alleged rape case filed against him in 2013, paving the way for his trial. Tejpal, 54, pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. The next hearing in the case in the district court has been fixed on November 21.
Additional district sessions judge in Mapusa, Vijaya Pol, framed charges against Tejpal under IPC sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 354 A (sexual harassment) and B (criminal assault with intent to disrobe a woman), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement), public prosecutor Fransisco Tavora told reporters.
Tejpal faces a minimum 10-year jail term if he is found guilty of rape. “The judge will now try Tejpal under these sections,” he said. Advocate Rajiv Gomes, representing Tejpal, had pleaded before the Mapusa court in Goa to put the trial on hold as a petition challenging the framing of charges is already pending before the Bombay High Court at Goa.
Tejpal was also represented by advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey. The judge rejected the plea and allowed the framing of charges against Tejpal. “The charges were framed to be ordered against Tejpal during the last hearing. Today the charges were explained to him and he has pleaded not guilty,” Gomes said,
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“The trial has been deferred by the high court, which has issued a notice to the state government, and the case would be heard on November 1,” he said. “We had contended that even explanation of the charges (to Tejpal) should be deferred because we are confident that we will get discharge from the high court. We know that there is no case in the prosecution,” Gomes added.
He said that the trial in the matter is not going to start before the disposal of the case filed in the high court. Earlier this week, the Bombay High Court at Goa had refused to stay the framing of charges against him, while issuing notice to the state government. The high court had, however, restrained the district court from examining the evidence in this case.
The former Tehelka editor is alleged to have sexually assaulted a former colleague inside the elevator of a five- star hotel in Goa in 2013. He had been arrested on November 30, 2013 by the Crime Branch after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the court. He has been out on bail since May 2014.