Justice Nageshwar Rao Recuses From Hearing Tarun Tejpal’s Plea

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Former editor-in-chief of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal who was accused of sexual assault of a female journalist had appealed seeking an in-camera hearing of the appeal filed by the State of Goa against his acquittal in a sexual assault case. The Justice, under whose bench the hearing was supposed to take place recused from hearing the plea.

The plea by Tarun Tejpal was supposed to be heard by Justices Rao and BR Gavai on January 21, today. But Justice Rao recused and asked Tejpal to file the plea in some other court as he had appeared for the Goa government in 2015 as a Senior Counsel.

“I had appeared for the State in 2015. Please list this before some other court,”he said to Tejpal’s plea for an in-camera hearing. The plea was filed under section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). It was also based on Justice Gautam Patel’s recent order on the cases under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act.

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The argument put by Tejpal’s side was that every party has the right to put forward their side of the case and it would be unfair if the lawyers have to curtail their submissions as some publications may publish it without due care. The plea also stated that section 327 is fundamental right now.

Tarun Tejpal Sexual Assault Case

The survivor had alleged that Tejpal allegedly tried to sexually assault her in the lift of a hotel in Goa in November 2013. A Goa sessions court had acquitted Tejpal in the case.

Akancha Srivastava, a women’s rights activist told the news agency that Tejpal had admitted to the assault, allegedly done by him. “Half of these cases don’t even go in court and those which reach court are fought and then to have this judgement is extremely demotivating. When a person has already accepted that he has misbehaved, then on what grounds has he been let off. If he is saying he did then he did it,” said Srivastava.

This Goa sessional court judgement was challenged by the state government, who said that the judgement was “coloured by prejudice and patriarchy.” In November 2013, an FIR against Tejpal was registered by the Goa police under sections 342, 254 (a), 341, 354 (b), 376 (2) (k), 354 and 376 (2)(f). He was out on bail in May 2014.

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