The Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to stay the framing of charges against former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal in a lower court, but also directed that the trial could begin only after the consent of the High Court.
The court direction followed a petition by Tejpal challenging the framing of charges against him by the Additional North Goa District and Sessions court for the alleged rape of a colleague during a conference in Goa in 2013.
Tejpal’s counsel Aman Lekhi, while challenging the September 7 framing of charges process, said that the accusations of rape were false and that the prosecution had delayed handing over the evidence to him by three years. The prosecution lawyer Saresh Lotlikar on the other hand argued that only a proper trial could establish the veracity of the charges levelled against the journalist.
Justice Prithviraj Chavan also directed that examination of witnesses at the lower court could only begin after its consent.
Tejpal faces charges under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code had been endorsed by the court, while an additional Section 354 (b) (criminal assault with intent to disrobe) had been added.
The former editor-in-chief has been accused of sexually assaulting a junior female colleague in the elevator of a hotel in north Goa during an event in November 2013.
Tejpal was subsequently arrested but is now out on bail.
While the next hearing at the additional District and Sessions court in Mapusa town, located 10 km from Panaji, is scheduled for September 28, the High Court will continue hearing Tejpal’s petition on November 1.