The Goa government has appealed against the acquittal of former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal who faced trial for sexually assaulting his then-colleague in a Goa hotel in 2013. Pushing for an early hearing, the state government termed Tejpal’s acquittal order as erroneous in law and unsustainable. Appearing for the state government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before a vacation bench of the Bombay High Court in Goa that the trial court’s dealing with the case made it appear like if any person who is a victim of sexual assault has to exhibit her trauma and she could not be believed unless she did that. SG Mehta said that most of the findings with regard to the victim were ‘astonishing’. The sessions court while acquitting Tejpal questioned the victim’s conduct, holding that she did not exhibit any kind of normative behaviour such as trauma and shock which a victim of sexual assault might plausibly show.
“The judgement, which is yet to be uploaded on the court’s website and made public, also in various paragraphs discloses the identity of the victim woman. This is a criminal offence,” he said. Mehta said that the judgement discloses the names of the victim’s mother and husband and also the victim’s email ID.
Meanwhile, High Court Justice S C Gupte directed the sessions court to redact from its judgment all the references that may reveal the identity of the victim. The bench observed while hearing the appeal filed by the Goa government.
Criticising the observations and findings of the session court judgement, Mehta said, “The system expects sensitivity apart from judicial jurisprudence while dealing with such matters. We owe it to the girls (victims).”
SG Mehra also questioned references made in the judgement to the victim’s meeting with senior advocate Indira Jaisingh and other women lawyers before recording her statement with police.
The court posted the appeal for further hearing on June 2.