Tejpal verdict like a ‘manual for rape victims’, says Bombay HC.
In this post, we discuss the Tejpal case verdict and the Bombay High Court stance on the judgment of this case. Tejpal was acquitted on May 21 following which the Goa government moved the High Court on May 25 stating that this case needs a retrial.
Facts of the case: Tarun Tejpal is the former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine. A female colleague accused him of sexual assault but a trial court acquitted him of all charges. He was acquitted of offences under Sections 341,342,354,354A, 354B, 376(2) (f), and 376 (2) (k) of the Indian Penal Code. Tejpal was acquitted on May 21 following which the Goa government moved the High Court on May 25 stating that this case needs a retrial as the trial court lacked an understanding of a survivor’s post-trauma behavior, and the verdict was colored by prejudice and patriarchy. The court admitted the appeal by the Goa government and issued notice to Tejpal. The Bombay High Court stated that it is a kind of manual for rape victims, on the behavior of victims. This is a case for considering leave for appeal. The Tejpal Case verdict underlines how little the Judiciary has learned on sexual violence.
Also Read- Tarun Tejpal verdict like a rape manual, says Bombay HC
Legal Issue: How little judiciary has learned on sexual violence as it acquitted an accused who was charged under Sections 341,342,354,354A, 354B, 376(2) (f) and 376(2) (k) of the Indian Penal Code.
Legal Opinion: According to the legal opinion, the judgment of this Tejpal case has been very biased and it is a kind of manual for rape victims, on the behavior of victims. The Judgment consisted of 527 pages and it stated that evidence like CCTV footage did not prove the prosecution’s case due to which the Judgment came under severe criticism for also questioning the behavior of the survivor. It also stated that it is extremely revealing that the victim account does not demonstrate any kind of normative behavior on her part. It stated that it is not possible to believe that the survivor, a woman who is aware of laws, intelligent, alert & physically fit who is a yoga trainer, would not push or ward off the accused if she got pushed up against the wall, especially when she was facing him, & especially when she saw the accused coming uncomfortably close to her in her private space. Also the Judge remained a mute spectator and didn’t prevent the defense from raising questions about the survivor’s previous conduct. This shows that the Judiciary has been biased and has not dealt with this case properly.
Also Read- Goa moves Bombay High Court against Tarun Tejpal’s acquittal
The Decision of the court: The case has not yet been decided so the Bombay High Court admitted the appeal by the Goa government and issued notice to Tejpal. Now, this matter will be heard on June 24.
Conclusion: It was observed by the Bombay High Court that the Judgment of 527 pages which acquitted Tejpal focused on indicting the complainant rather than trying to ascertain the culpable role of the accused. The Trial Court considered the evidence given by defense witnesses as gospel truth but at the same time discredited without any finding the evidence given by the victim and the prosecution witnesses. It was also observed that the judge had completely ignored the most telling piece of evidence in the case which established the guilt of the accused beyond a shadow of a doubt which was the apology email that Tejpal sent to the victim but the judge stated that this evidence is inadmissible. The trial court had discarded the emailed apology because it was coerced and did not admit to a crime. The finding of the trial court on how a woman should normally behave is unsustainable in law and is colored by prejudice and patriarchy. The prosecution has asked the high court to expunge several portions of the judgment that it states cast aspersions not only on the prosecution’s case but also on the survivor. This fact, accompanied by other attendant circumstances, clearly makes out a case for retrial under the law. Therefore, this judgment has been influenced by extraneous and inadmissible materials and testimonies, graphic details of the victim’s sexual history, which is prohibited by law and has used the same for purposes of censuring her character and discrediting her evidence. Also, the observations made in the Judgment betray a complete lack of understanding of the post-trauma behavior of victims.
Also Read- Bombay HC Faults Trial Court Verdict Acquitting Tarun Tejpal
This post is written by A. Thiruthi.
For case specific advice please contact criminal lawyers advocates in Chandigarh Panchkula Mohali Kharar Derabassi Zirakpur
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