Tarun Tejpal seeks anticipatory bail in ‘Tehelka’ sexual assault case
Woman journalist who accused ‘Tehelka’ editor-in-chief of sexually assaulting her resigns from publication
New Delhi: The woman journalist at Tehelka who has accused the magazine’s editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal of sexually assaulting her, resigned from the publication on Monday, accusing both Tejpal and managing editor Shoma Chaudhury of “intimidation, character assassination and slander”.
The resignation came as Tejpal moved the Delhi high court seeking anticipatory bail as well as a transit bail to approach the appropriate court in Goa, whose police force has filed a case of rape and outrage of modesty against him.
In her letter to Chaudhury, which has been reviewed by Mint, the journalist accused Chaudhury of failing to support her in the aftermath of her allegations, which led Tejpal to step down from his position for a period of six months last week.
The journalist said: “I am resigning from my position as Principal Correspondent at Tehelka magazine, with immediate effect, because Tehelka’s Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal sexually molested me on two occasions in November this year.
“I am deeply traumatized by the lack of support offered by the organization. In such circumstances, it is untenable for me to continue to work for this organization.”
The letter alleged the publication has tried to cover up what had really occurred during the magazine’s THiNK Fest annual event in Goa. “Further, in conversations with my colleagues, you admitted to them that you did not see the need to set up an anti-sexual harassment cell as per the Vishakha guidelines, because you did not contest my version of what had occurred on the nights of 7th and 8th of November,” said the letter.
The journalist rejected Chaudhury’s claim that she (the journalist) was “satisfied” with Tehelka’s actions, saying that wasn’t the case and that Chaudhury was trying to establish that Tejpal has “another version” of events.
“Over the past years, we have collectively defended the rights of women, written about custodial rape, sexual molestation at the workplace...,” the journalist said.
“At a time when I find myself victim to such a crime, I am shattered to find the Editor in Chief of Tehelka, and you—in your capacity as Managing Editor—resorting to precisely these tactics of intimidation, character assassination and slander,” she said.
Four other employees of Tehelka—Ishan Tankha, Revati Laul, Shougat Dasgupta and Jay Mazoomdar—also quit the organization, confirmed one of the four employees mentioned who asked not to be identified.
Mint couldn’t independently verify this.
“Tehelka’s credibility has taken a big blow over this case. I am sure there are employees within the organization who are with her in her fight for justice,” said Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association.
Meanwhile, Tejpal on Monday moved the Delhi high court seeking anticipatory bail in the sexual assault case, PTI reported.
Tejpal, in his petition, filed through advocate Sandeep Kapur, also sought transit bail to approach the appropriate court in Goa, said PTI.
Justice G.S. Sistani, before whom the petition was filed by senior advocates K.T.S. Tulsi and Geeta Luthra, will hear the matter on Tuesday.
According to legal experts, if Tejpal is granted bail in Delhi, he is likely to cite the same before courts in Goa as a ground for being granted bail in that state.
“As the FIR (first information report) is in Goa, the proper forum (for bail) would be the court in Goa. However, as Tejpal is a resident of Delhi, the apprehension of arrest to justify anticipatory bail can be shown to exist at Delhi. But the courts in Delhi cannot assume the jurisdiction of the regular court in Goa with regards to the FIR in question for which Tejpal will have to move court in Goa,” said Aman Lekhi, an advocate and criminal law expert.
In effect, while Tejpal being a resident of Delhi can seek bail here, the judicial proceedings are more likely to take place in Goa, where the alleged crime was committed.
“In the event that anticipatory bail is granted in Delhi, that factum can be used for him to insist on a similar relief in Goa and in the event that the court in Goa declines it, the rejection can be used to show the same is motivated,” added Lekhi.
Last week, Goa Police filed a case of rape and outrage of modesty against Tejpal in an FIR—an initial police complaint that’s a prerequisite for the launch of a formal investigation.
Tejpal, who founded Tehelka in March 2000, faces possible arrest after the filing of the FIR, amid outrage over the incident.
On 20 November, Tejpal stepped down as editor of Tehelka magazine for six months, taking responsibility for what managing editor Chaudhury termed an “untoward incident” for which he extended an unconditional apology to his junior colleague.
After the complaint by the woman journalist to Chaudhury, Tejpal said he would “recuse” himself from his role as editor for six months in a gesture of “atonement” and made an unconditional apology. The journalist also wanted a committee to be set up as per the Vishakha guidelines constituted by the Supreme Court.
On 21 November, Chaudhury said the magazine had constituted a formal complaints committee, to be headed by publisher and writer Urvashi Butalia, to investigate the matter.
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