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Court Says No Corroborative Evidence In Rape Charge Against Tarun Tejpal

A trial court in Goa has acquitted the former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine Tarun Tejpal from the charged of sexual assault by giving him a benefit of doubt. The court observed that there was no evidence supporting the allegations made by the complainant woman.

The order copy of verdict which was given on May 21 in 2013 case was made available on Tuesday.

Tarun Tejpal was alleged for sexually assaulting a former woman colleague inside the elevator of a luxury hotel in the state. The journalist was acquitted from the charges by the Sessions Court on Friday.

The order was given by Judge Kshama Joshi, who detailing the order said that considering all the evidences against the accused benefit of doubt is being given because there is no corroborative evidence to support the allegations made by the Complainant woman.

In the 500-page request, the court has seen that the Investigating Officer (Crime Branch official Sunita Sawant) didn’t conduct any probe on the important points of the eight-year-old case.

“It cannot be lost site (sight) that rape causes the greatest distress and humiliation to the victim but at the same time a false allegation of rape can cause an equal distress and humiliation and damage to the accused as well,” the judge said.

Dismissing the claim that the lady was traumatised, the court has said a portion of the WhatsApp messages of the lady show she was not traumatised as said and had plans to remain in Goa after the official occasion (coordinated by the magazine) where the supposed crime was perpetrated.

The court has said the proclamation of the lady’s mother doesn’t validate or uphold the assertion of the complainant lady that she was in trauma because of supposed assault, as neither the complainant young lady nor her mother changed their statements.

The judge also focused that the complainant has offered many clashing statements. There are many proof on record which make question on the honesty of the complainant young lady, said the court.

Referring to the loopholes in the investigation, the judge said it is the fundamental right of the accused to have a reasonable investigation but the IO has not conducted effective investigation.

The judge has said the Investigating Officer distorted essential piece of proof as far as CCTV film of the main floor of seventh block of the hotel, which was obvious evidence of innocence of the accused.

Sunita Sawant being the (underlying) complainant (Goa police took suo motu cognisance of the charges) can not be Investigation Officer for the situation however she didn’t move any proposal to her superiors to give up the examination to other official, the court noted.

The court has not precluded the chance of tampering with some CCTV recording inside the lodging.

The judge said the Investigating Officer didn’t check the activity and working of the lift board of block 7 (of the hotel) to demonstrate that opening of lift can be stopped or not.

IO didn’t explore whether the lift can be kept from opening or can be kept in circuit by pressing a button as claimed by the complainant young lady, the court said.

The IO didn’t investigate the way that there is an incoming phone and an emergency button to use in the emergency, the judge added.

The order has said the CCTV recording shows that the lift indeed opened twice on the ground floor though the lady guaranteed the lift didn’t open at all.

The IO has conceded that there is inconsistency between CCTV recording and statement of the complainant lady, yet IO didn’t record valuable explanation, said the trial court.

“It is crucial to note that the contradictions are often so glaring that the exact opposite of what the complainant girl is claiming yet IO did not question the complainant girl. It is settled proposition that acquittal of the accused can not result due to defects in the investigation, the evidences have to be scrutinised independently,” said the judge. The court said the prosecution has failed to discharge the burden proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday the Goa government has challenged the acquittal moving the Bombay High Court.

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