Bombay HC tells court to redact verdict parts that reveal woman’s identity in Tejpal case

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The Bombay High Court at Goa on Thursday directed sessions judge Kshama Joshi, who recently acquitted journalist Tarun Tejpal in a 2013 sexual assault case, to redact portions of her judgement that could reveal the identity of the woman before the order is uploaded on the judicial portal.

A vacation bench of justice SC Gupte was hearing an urgent appeal filed by the Goa government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, challenging the May 21 judgement.

The court also gave the Goa government three days to put the order on record and amend the grounds of appeal.

“Mehta pointed out the issues in the judgement. The high court has agreed and directed the sessions judge to make some alterations before the judgement is uploaded,” Adv Pravin Faldesai, a government advocate, said.

The high court agreed with Mehta’s contentions and said, “It appears from the impugned judgment of the learned Sessions Judge, available to this court, but which, the court is informed, is not yet uploaded on the trial court website, that it contains a reference to the victim’s husband and also her email ID … and a reference to the name of the mother of the prosecutrix. In the interest of protecting the identity of the victim of an offence, such as the one with which we are concerned in the present case, it is appropriate to have the above references… redacted. The trial court is accordingly directed to redact the above references, as also other similar references, wherever found in the order, whilst uploading the impugned judgment.”

The matter is now posted on June 2.

After a lengthy trial that lasted four years, the fast track court last week acquitted Tejpal, former editor of Tehelka magazine, of the allegations of sexually assault on his junior colleague in the lift of a five star hotel on two occasions during the Think Ideas Festival in November 2013.

In her judgement, sessions judge Kshama Joshi said that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and gave Tejpal the benefit of doubt. She also questioned “contradictions” in the victim’s testimony, her post assault conduct as well as the “destruction” of inconvenient evidence by the prosecution.

Tejpal was acquitted of all charges against him including under IPC Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (sexual harassment), 354A(1)(I)(II) (demand for sexual favours), 354B (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).

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