Tejpal acquittal likely to deter other victims from reporting sexual assault cases: Activists

·3-min read

New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) Several women's rights activists on Friday questioned the grounds on which journalist Tarun Tejpal was acquitted in a rape case and said the Goa court's verdict would deter other women from coming forward to report cases of sexual assault and abuse.

Some of the activists pointed out that Tejpal had himself admitted to attempting to assault the woman and tendered apology, and said the judgement is disappointing and demotivating.

A sessions court in Goa acquitted Tejpal, the then editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine, of sexually assaulting a woman who was his colleague at that time in an elevator of a five-star resort in 2013.

Women rights activist and cyber safety expert Akancha Srivastava said Tejpal himself admitted that he attempted to assault her.

'Half of these cases don't even go in court and those which reach court and 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,' she said.

'When we set precedent with such verdicts then we deter more and more victims from coming forward to filing cases and fighting it,” she said.

All India Progressive Women's Association secretary Kavita Krishnan said the judicial system lets down another woman and the survivor had to go through hell. 'The judicial system lets down another woman. No wonder women do not want to file a complaint with the police,” she said in a tweet.

Krishnan said Tejpal penned several apologies admitting to the incident. “Goa police took suo motu notice, got FIR filed. Since then the survivor has been dragged through hell,” she tweeted.

“The hell of being yanked around by police, courts, repeatedly to Goa. The hell of having this case tied to her neck like an albatross. The hell of systematic slander campaigns against her by TT (Tarun Tejpal) and Friends. Her integrity being smeared in court and in social parties,' Krishnan said in another tweet.

She said at the end of it all, the courageous woman did not get even a tiny taste of justice. Rape trials are deeply violent towards survivors. “Yet again, a survivor has been demeaned, humiliated, and let down,” she tweeted.

Chhavi Methi of the Bharatiya Samajik Jagritik Sanghatan said the judgement was disappointing.

'It is disappointing for the whole humanity because it sets the precedent that someone who has power can get away with anything without any repercussions for their actions,” Methi said.

The Goa police had registered an FIR against Tejpal in November 2013, following which he was arrested.

The Goa crime branch had filed a charge sheet against Tejpal, who has been out on bail since May 2014.

He faced the trial under IPC sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty), 354-A (sexual harassment), 354-B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 376(2)(f) (person in a position of authority over women, committing rape) and 376(2)k) (rape by a person in a position of control). PTI UZM SMN SMN