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Sunita Sawantt Police Inspector CID Criime Branch Dona palla Goa asked Aliawah to remove the pictures and it has been done. It has been done to comply with the spirit of a reasonable law that Aliawah appreciates.

However, Aliawah management disagrees with the argument that identity of the victim is unknown. Tehelka is a small outfit and everybody within it knows who the victim is. Her identity is now known amongst the Indian journalistic community. Aliawah is now trying to seek an exclusive interview with the victim.

Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 says that
(1) Whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offence under section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D is alleged or found to have been committed (hereafter in this section referred to as the victim) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.
(2) Nothing in sub- section (1) extends to any printing or publication of the name or any matter which may make known the identity of the victim if such printing or publication is-

(a) by or under the order in writing of the officer- in- charge of the police station or the police officer making the investigation into such offence acting in good faith for the purposes of such investigation; or
(b) by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the victim; or
(c) where the victim is dead or minor or of unsound mind, by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the next- of- kin of the victim: Provided that no such authorisation shall be given by the next- of- kin to anybody other than the chairman or the secretary, by whatever name called, of any recognised welfare institution or organisation. Explanation.- For the purposes of this sub- section,” recognised welfare institution or organisation” means a social welfare institution or organisation recognised in this behalf by the Central or State Government.
(3) Whoever prints or publishes any matter in relation to any proceeding before a court with respect to an offence referred to in sub- section (1) without the previous permission of such court shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.- The printing or publication of the judgment of any High Court or the Supreme Court does not amount to an offence within the meaning of this section.

The moment one says senior correspondent of Tehelka in Mumbai, the identity of the victim gets known by simply visiting the Tehelka website. The whole Indian media outfit is then guilty of this offense as they are making known the identity as mentioned in subsection (1).

Subsection (1) above refers to section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D of the IPC. These sections can only be known once an FIR is registered.

The spirit of the law is good and appreciated by Aliawah and it has thus decided to comply with it.

Incidentally, on Nov 29, amid heated arguments on bail for Tarun Tejpal in a Goa court, his lawyer, Geeta Luthra, named the young journalist the Tehelka founder is accused of raping.

An angry judge censured the lawyer and warned that it was “not a minor mistake.”

“It looks as if the victim is the accused. We won’t tolerate this. This is not done… are we trying to malign her?” the judge, Anuja Prabhudessai, asked.

She also did not accept the lawyer’s explanation that the Investigating Officer had written the name. “You ought not to have said it,” she said.

The lawyer apologised.

_________________

India’s senior investigative journalist Tarun Tejpal, who exposed many corruption cases including BJP’s former party president Bangaru Laxman accepting bribe in a defence deal, is now facing sexual assault case.

Tehelka’s Bombay senior correspondent has accused Tarun Tejpal of sexually assaulting during Tehelka’s ‘Think’ seminar in Goa. This young journalist went to school at New Delhi’s Sardar Patel Vidyalaya and then studied philosophy at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. She previously worked for WorldSpace radio’s web journal, The Voice. For a brief period, she worked with Lalit Kala Akademi as chief coordinator for an international poetry festival before joining Tehelka.

Meanwhile, Tejpal has confessed to the crime and tendred written apology to his woman colleague. Tejpal also took six-month leave as atonement for his act.

Subsequently, he in a statement, offered the “fullest cooperation” to the police and other authorities in the investigations.

Tejpal said he had “tried to do what was honorably demanded of me” and had issued an apology for the “alleged misconduct” as demanded by the junior colleague.

“There have been serious allegations cast on me in this last week, and unfortunately as sometimes happens in life, the complete truth and the need to do the honorable thing can come into conflict,” he said.

The truth, according to Tejpal, was that “it was an incredibly fleeting, totally consensual encounter of less than a minute in a lift (of a two-storey building!)”. He added that “the CCTV footage will clear everything”.

However, Tarun Tejpal was arrested by the Goa police after Chief Minister Manohar Parikkar ordered probe into the matter.

Clip_168Email of the victim to Tehelka’s Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury

Dear Shoma,

It is extremely painful for me to write this email to you – I have struggled with finding an easier way to say it, but there isn’t one.

The editor in chief of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal, sexually assaulted me at Think on two occasions last week. From the very first moment, I wanted to call you, or find you and tell you what he had done to me – but given how absorbed you were at Think; preparing for and conducting sessions, and the fact that it was impossible for the two of us to get even a minute alone together, I could not.

To add to this, I had to process the fact that it was Tarun who molested me — my father’s ex colleague and friend, Tiya’s dad, and someone I had so deeply respected and admired for so many years.

Both times, I returned to my room in a completely distraught condition, trembling and crying.

I went straight to Shougat and Ishan’s room, where I called G Vishnu and told them what had been done to me. (All three of them are copied on this email. You can contact them for any clarifications you see necessary).

The second time he molested me, I even told Tiya what happened. When he heard I’d told Tiya (she confronted him), he lashed out at me, and I became truly terrified of what he would do. I avoided him in all situations except in rooms full of people, until I checked out of Think on Sunday.

As of Saturday evening, he sent me text messages insinuating that I misconstrued “a drunken banter”. That is not what happened.

Banter does not involve forcing yourself on someone, trying to disrobe them, and penetrate them with your fingers despite them pleading for you to stop.

As you read through the details of what happened in the attachment to this mail, I hope you will also understand how traumatic and terrifying it has been for me to report this to you — and yet how critical it is that Tehelka constitute an anti sexual harassment cell as per the Vishakha guidelines immediately, to investigate this matter.

At the very least, I will need a written apology from Mr Tejpal and an acknowledgement of the same to be circulated through the organization. It cannot be considered acceptable for him to treat a female employee in this way.

On the night of 7th November 2013, the opening night of Tehelka’s Think festival, I had discharged my duties for the day as the chaperone for Mr Robert De Niro. As it was Mr De Niro and his daughter’s first night in Goa and at the festival, my editor in chief Mr Tarun Tejpal accompanied Mr De Niro, Drena De Niro (his daughter) and I to Mr De Niro’s suite to wish him goodnight. (As his chaperone, my work was to be available all day to Mr De Niro and Drena, take them sightseeing, make sure they were well looked after in Goa and at the Hyatt – until they retired to their suite at night. )

As we left the suite, Mr Tejpal and I were in conversation — I have known him since I was a child, he had worked closely with my father who was also a journalist, and after my father’s accident Mr Tejpal had always been a paternal figure to me. He was responsible for offering me my first job, and was always just a phone call away whenever I needed his advice on a story or life. His daughter, Tiya Tejpal and I are very close friends as well.

As we made our way out of the elevator of Block 7 at the Grand Hyatt, Mr Tejpal held my arm and pulled me back into the lift. He said – “Let’s go wake up Bob” (Mr De Niro) and I asked him why he wanted to do that. I then realized that Mr Tejpal was simply pressing buttons on the lift’s panel to make the elevator stay in circuit, preventing it from stopping anywhere, and for the doors to open.

At this point, he began to kiss me — from the first moment of his doing so, I asked him to stop, citing several reasons, including my friendship to Tiya, my closeness to his family, the fact that he had known me since I was a child, the fact that I worked for Tehelka and for Shoma Chaudhury – who is my managing editor and mentor.

It was like talking to a deaf person. Mr Tejpal lifted my dress up, went down on his knees and pulled my underwear down. He attempted to perform oral sex on me as I continued to struggle and hysterically asked him to stop. At that moment he began to try and penetrate me with his fingers, I became scared and pushed him hard and asked him to stop the lift. He would not listen. The lift stopped on the ground floor as Mr Tejpal’s hands were on me and could not press the button for yet another floor to keep it in circuit. As soon as the doors opened, I picked up my underwear and began walking out of the elevator rapidly – he was still following me, asking me  what the matter was.

I said “It’s all wrong. I work for you and Shoma.” He said first “It’s alright to be in love with more than one person,” and then he said, “Well, this is the easiest way for you to keep your job.” I was walking still faster, blinking back tears.

By this time, we had made our way from Block 7 to the main lawns of the Grand Hyatt, where I walked into the grassy dinner area full of people and Mr Tejpal walked off towards the performance area. Right as soon as he was out of sight, I took a taxi back to my hotel – the International Centre for Goa, where the Tehelka staff was staying, and went to the room where the Literary Editor Shougat Dasgupta and the Photo Editor Ishan Tankha were staying. I also called another friend and colleague – investigative reporter G Vishnu to the room and told them what had occurred.

While the four of us were talking in the balcony, Mr Tejpal sent me a text message from his personal phone number at 1.17 am, which said “The fingertips”. This was the extent he had managed to penetrate me before I pushed him and ran out of the lift. I told the people with me on the balcony about this. Some of us considered resigning as soon as Think was over. I called my boyfriend Aman Sethi in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from Ishan Tankha’s iPhone and told him what had happened.

I was confused, hurt and really, really scared. At that point I did not want to lose my job. And so the next morning, I went about my work determined not to give Mr Tejpal or Tehelka a reason to fire me, as I was sure they would do once this story got out.

At a few points of the day, I discussed the events of the previous night with Shougat Dasgupta, G Vishnu and Ishan Tankha, who were concerned about me after the state they had seen me in the previous night. In the afternoon, I accompanied Mr De Niro, his daughter, Sir VS Naipaul, Lady Naipaul and Mr Tejpal’s wife to the Governor’s bungalow for lunch.

Given the company we were in, I did not make any mention of what had occurred to Ms Geetan Batra, Mr Tejpal’s wife. Once I had escorted Mr De Niro back to his room post lunch, he expressed a desire to attend one of the sessions at the Main Hall. I brought him down to the Green Room, where Mr Tejpal found us, and asked me to bring Mr De Niro back down for Mr Amitabh Bachchan’s session as he wanted the two to meet. I took Mr De Niro and his daughter shopping to Panjim, and brought them back in time for Mr Bachchan’s session as instructed. Once the session was done, Mr Tejpal, Mr De Niro, Mr Bachchan and a few other members of the film industry, lawyers, politicians etc were supposed to meet at the Block 7 Grand Club for drinks.

I escorted Mr De Niro and Drena to this bar, told them I would return to my hotel, change, and be right back. While I was getting dressed at my hotel, Mr Tejpal called me from ThakurJi’s phone (Thakurji is the caretaker and manager of Tehelka’s Bombay office premises) and asked me where I was. I informed him I was just about to leave for the Grand Hyatt. In the taxi I noticed he had already sent me two text messages on my phone which said “Where r u?” at 8:29and then “??” at 8:42. from his personal number.

I replied with the following messages: “On my way to the lounge” 8.42 pm, “Had to sort out a lost package for Drena and get a bit presentable. See you in 10” at 8.44 pm and “Call tee she needs you” at 8.47 pm as Tiya had messaged me asking to help her find Tarun. At this point I was trying to be as normal and professional as possible and somehow get through my duties.

Five minutes later, as I was walking into the Grand Club at Block 7, Mr Tejpal was coming out of the lounge. He pointed at me asking me to stop. I was already worried that I was late and that Mr De Niro had asked for me. Mr Tejpal came to me and said “Come up with me, we have to get something from Bob’s room”. I was frightened that this would lead to a repeat of the previous night and so I said, “What does he need? I’ll go get it.” I was scared of getting into the lift with him again, and more terrified that he was going to try and take me into a room this time. By this time he was holding me by the wrist and had taken me into the lift (which is barely a few steps away from the lobby of block 7 where he had asked me to wait). When the doors closed, he started to try and kiss me again. I said “Tarun, please, no, just stop,” he pulled away, smiled, patted my cheek and said “Why? Ok. I’ll stop.” I said again “This just isn’t right. Tiya is my best friend. I had lunch with Geetan today. “ 

He smiled again and just for a moment I thought I had appealed to his better sense. I turned away from him, desperately waiting for the door to open (there are only three floors in Block 7 (G, 1 and 2), we were between floors). Within seconds of my turning around, he started to lift up my dress. He lifted it all the way up and said “You’re unbelievable”.

The door opened on the second floor, on Mr De Niro’s floor —  and he said again – “The universe is telling us something” to which I said “I’m taking the stairs” and started to walk out. He pulled me back in, sensing that I was on the verge of hysteria — by this point, he was totally comfortable physically manhandling me, but sensing my sheer panic, he did not touch me until the lift reached the ground floor. Right as the doors were about to open, he patted my behind once more.

I walked out of the lift, went to the Grand Club and immediately informed Ishan Tankha that Mr Tejpal had tried to molest me again.

Ishan said “Again? What the fuck is wrong with him?” He was completely disgusted and said once more that we should just resign immediately. As I was to accompany Mr De Niro to the dining area, I somehow composed myself. Mr De Niro was mobbed by fans – and I had to take him away from the main garden to the Capiz Bar. I was sitting at the Capiz Bar with Mr De Niro and his daughter when TiyaTejpal came there to join us.

This was the first time the two of us had really met since the incident of the previous night. Since I had moved to Bombay about a year and a half ago, Tiya had grown to become one of my closest friends. She lives across the road from my house in Bombay and barely a day had passed when the two of us did not meet or talk to each other constantly. She was sitting beside me, and Mr De Niro was absorbed in conversation with his daughter. I could not keep something of this magnitude from her. I told her she would hate me for what I was telling her – but that Mr Tejpal had tried to molest me on these two separate occasions. I said “He tried to shove his tongue down my throat and then took my panties off”, when Tiya replied saying “I saw him do this to a woman when I was thirteen, so it doesn’t surprise me anymore,” but she was clearly disgusted.

Tiya left the Capiz Bar right after this. In half an hour, Mr De Niro and Drena asked to be dropped back to their room. They were extremely upset at the day’s events because Mr De Niro had all but been assaulted by fans at the dinner table, and they asked me to convey this to Mr Tejpal. When I came down from Block 7, I found Mr Tejpal sitting at a table with several people and called him away from the table, but still in full view of everyone, so I could relay Mr De Niro’s message privately.

I said “Bob is really upset about tonight, he got mobbed really badly..” to which Mr Tejpal replied “I don’t give a fuck about Bob. How could you tell Tiya what happened?” I said “Tarun, I told you Tiya and I are close and what you did wasn’t okay, I had to tell her,” to which he said “She’s my daughter. Do you even understand what the word means? Just get away from me, I’m so fucking pissed off with you right now.”

I left from the spot crying, found Tiya outside her room in the main performance area and asked her what she had said to her father. She said “There was no other way. As soon as you told me I wished you hadn’t, but you can’t tell me what to say to him – I told him to keep it in his pants.” I said “I’m probably going to lose my job over this”, she agreed, but also said “It’ll be a bad phase but it’ll pass.”

On this night as well, I left the Grand Hyatt and went to my hotel, found Shougat Dasgupta, Ishan Tankha and G Vishnu and told them what had happened.

I also called my boyfriend and told him that Mr Tejpal was aware of the fact that I wasn’t staying quiet, and that he was extremely angry that I had told his daughter.

The next morning, I called my mother and told her everything that had happened. Everyone was most worried for my safety and advised me to leave Think as soon as possible — however since my day’s work involved me staying away from the Grand Hyatt and staying at a completely different part of Goa for the day with Mr De Niro and his daughter, I felt temporarily safe.

At this time MrTejpal sent me the following texts from his personal number.

1. “I hope you told Tiya that it was just drunken banter, and nothing else”

To which I replied – “I told her we were both drunk” – because it was true that everyone had had a few drinks on the first night. But not the second, when he assaulted me minutes after I had reached the Grand Hyatt.

However, this was the first time Mr Tejpal had said anything to me after lashing out at me the previous night, and I was still very afraid of him.

He then sent me a second message:

2. “And just banter, nothing else” – to which I did not reply, because there was no way what he had done to me could have been described as “banter”.

Sensing that I had clammed up at his attempt to sugar-coat what really happened, he sent me a third message:

3.  “Why?? What’s happened??”

I did not reply to this message. Within minutes, he sent me a fourth message, one that convinced me he saw absolutely nothing wrong with what he had done, and was in fact now trying to shame me for talking to Tiya:

4. “I can’t believe u went and mentioned even the smallest thing to her. What an absence of any understanding of a parent child relationship.” 

After this message, I made sure to stay away from Mr Tejpal except when we were in extremely public situations only – such as the Speakers Green Room at the Hyatt, or the lobby of the hotel.

That evening as well, I steered completely clear of him. He made no mention of anything that had occurred the next day, and the only thought on my mind was to get Mr De Niro on his plane and leave Think. I had to speak to MrTejpal several times on Sunday the 9th of November to coordinate Mr De Niro’s travel plans, but in these calls he made no mention of anything that had occurred.

Once I dropped Mr De Niro to the Goa Airport at 4.30 pm, I had no further contact with Mr Tejpal.

However, on 16.11.2013, Mr Tejpal messaged me a number of times

1.“Have you spoken to Tee? Is she Ok?”

To which I replied: “Why would she be ok about the fact that you sexually assaulted her best friend, that is me?”

2.    “What’s with saying this awful stuff??”

To which I replied: Do not send me any messages. You are lying and you know that.

3.    “Oh is that so? I cherished you like one of my best kids always, all these years; and because of one drunken banter you so easily say these awful things.

To which I replied: It was twice Tarun, not once and it was no banter. You did the most horrible things to me and I certainly was not drunk. I asked you to stop repeatedly.

4.    “Oh so that’s what you told Tee. No wonder she’s so madly upset. Its ok. Am not going to contest anything with her. Will let time and my love heal what it can.”

5.     “Don’t think I’ve been more saddened in the longest time”

I have no doubt that Mr Tejpal was trying to establish his innocence in a devious manner. If he needed to get in touch with his daughter, he could have done so anytime he desired, through his wife or daughter or nephew or anyone from his family without messaging me about her, or falsely claiming that all that happened was ‘a drunken banter’. This was no banter, it was most clearly sexual assault.

As a reporter for Tehelka who writes on violence against women, I suddenly find myself in the horrific situation of discovering what it is like to be on the receiving end of this violence from a powerful man I once deeply admired and respected. I truly hope that the idea of Tehelka is still intact – and that you will conduct an inquiry into this matter at the earliest.

She later said that “what Mr Tejpal did to me falls within the legal definition of rape.”

Recuse

Clip_174On Nov 20, Tarun Tejpal in a bizarre move which goes to show his lack of appreciation about the seriousness of the offense in an email to the magazine’s managing editor Shoma Chaudhury whom some say he is also having an affair with,  wrote:

“I have already unconditionally apologized for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. Tehelka has been born and built, day on day, with my blood, toil, tears and sweat, and that of many others, against near-insurmountable odds,” he added.

In the email, he further wrote: “The last few days have been most testing, and I squarely take the blame for this. A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for. I have already unconditionally apologized for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. I feel atonement cannot be just words. I must do the penance that lacerates me. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Tehelka, and from the Tehelka office, for the next six months.” 

Goa Government led by BJP in Action

The Goa government, led ironically by staunch Tejpal enemy BJP, ordered an inquiry into allegations of sexual assault.

Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar said that “if we find any substance against Tejpal, a suo moto case can be registered against him since the incident happened in Goa. Only after police report, I would be able to speak more on the issue”.

Goa’s deputy inspector general of police O.P. Mishra said police had asked for complete closed-circuit television footage of the days during which the two incidents of assault were alleged to have taken place. “Only after we get the footage of the tape we will be able to comment further,” Mishra said.

Ever since news came in that the Goa Police had registered a rape case against Tarun Tejpal, there was a change of stance, instead of this being touted as an “internal matter” or counter questions about whether or not one was an aggrieved party, we now suddenly started hearing insinuations about there being different versions of what had actually happened, and whether what had earlier been dismissed as an “untoward incident” was, in the words of Tehelka managing editior, “consensual or non-consensual”.

The following text from Tarun Tejpal, purportedly sent to his friends, also did the rounds today:

All my actions so far were out of an attempt to preserve the girl’s dignity and on Shoma’s adamantine feminist-principle insistence that I keep correct form by apologising. The truth is it was a fleeting, totally consensual encounter of less than a minute in a lift (of a two-storey building!) Now that a committee has been announced the truth will come out. As will the cctv footage. My life and work have been trashed on a total lie.

Meanwhile, Goa police has registered an FIR against Tejpal which reads as follows:

…prima facie it appears that a cognisable offence has been committed by Shri Tarun Tejpal, Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka.com during the Think Fest held at Hotel Grand Hyatt, Hambolim, Goa, where the said accused allegedly committed the offence of sexual harassment and rape on a female journalist of Tehelka named [name withheld]. Hence, I hereby lodge my complaint on behalf of the state against Tarun Tejpal, Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka.com u/s 354-A, 376, 376 (2) IPC [outraging the modesty of a woman, rape, rape of a woman in the custody of the perpetrator.

Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with cases of outrage of modesty prescribed a maximum punishment of five years in prison after the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013.

Sexual harassment carries a punishment of up to three years’ imprisonment.

In a case where both offences have been committed, a punishment will be given under the section which carries higher punishment.

On Nov 28, Tehelka’s Chaudhary said the magazine had constituted a formal complaints committee, to be headed by publisher and writer Urvashi Butalia, to investigate the matter.

On Nov 29, summoned by Goa police, Tarun Tejpal flew to Goa by an afternoon flight to face questioning and possible arrest.

Accompanied by his wife Geetam Batra and one of his daughters and brother, the founding editor of Tehelka magazine reached Goa by a 2:30 p.m. flight to Panaji.

“I got summons. So I am heading to Goa,” Mr. Tejpal, who put up a faint smile, told reporters in a terse reply to questions.

Before getting into the departure hall with his wife for check-in, a tensed Tejpal hugged his daughter for some moments.

Tejpal, in the meantime, wrote a letter to the Goa police saying that he is ready to cooperate in the investigation and sought two days time to appear before it. He said that he will be reaching Goa on Saturday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Tejpal’s lawyers moved the court for bail after a joint team of Goa and Delhi police went to his residence in South Delhi’s Jungpura to arrest him but did not find him there. Later they carried out searches at various other places, including that of his relatives.

A day earlier, in a change of strategy, Tejpal had withdrawn his bail plea in the Delhi High Court, saying he will “approach appropriate court for appropriate remedy”.

In his earlier Petition, Tejpal had defended himself in the case against him reverting to his ‘drunken banter’ version. In fact, in another shocking statement, he had pointed fingers at the Goa Police and the BJP government in the state for hatching a conspiracy against him in his bail application filed in the Delhi High Court. He blamed the BJP of being behind the sexual assault allegations.

In his earlier Petition, he had taken the plea that all was normal, and no occurence as alleged took place. He said that he is the erstwhile Editor-in-chief of the Tehelka, weekly magazine. And that he is a journalist, author and Publisher of immense global repute. He said that throughout his career, he has strived for transparency and accountability in public life and is foremost critic of right-wing majoritarian politics in the country.

Throughout his career, he claimed that he has strived for transparency and accountability in public life and has been an active campaigner against any attempts to tarnish secular fabric of the country.

He said that he lives with his family and works for gains in New Delhi. And that he has been the managing editor of the Tehelka group which has its principal office in Greater Kailash, Part 2, New Delhi. The magazine is also published from New Delhi. He also said that the enquiry in terms of Vishakha Guidelines is also been conducted at New Delhi.

He said in his Petition that he and his wife Geetan travelled from Delhi to Goa via Jaipur to attend an annual event by the name of THINK 2013 hosted by Tehelka magazine.

That on Nov 7, while the said event was still on, Tejpal had a meeting with one of his female colleagues. It is pertinent to note here that the said encounter was only light-hearted bantering which lead to a moment of privacy between the two individuals. The nature of the said meeting can well be established by bare perusal of the CCTV footage of Hotel Hyatt, Goa, which is within the knowledge and reach of Goa Police but the same has been blatantly ignored by the Investigating Agency for which Tejpal is asking for a copy.

That on Nov 8, a further meeting took place between the two individuals but the same lasted for few seconds and no intimate moment was shared between the two individuals.

That subsequent to the aforementioned meeting, Tejpal said that he did not have any further interaction with the above mentioned female colleague.

247547_10100263889425419_14813627_51489448_2453972_nTejpal said that the Complainant continued to party and was completely normal and friendly all throughout her stay in Goa.  She went to the Remo Fernandes function which began around 7:30/8:00 pm and which lasted into the late evening. 

There was not a single whisper from any corner including the Complainant that any alleged untoward occurrence during the “THINK” fest.

Tejpal then said that to his shock, on Nov 18, he was informed by the Managing Editor of Tehelka Magazine, Shoma Chaudhry, that she has received a complaint alleging sexual harassment against a female colleague.

Tejpal says that he was shocked to learn that a false complaint was sought to be projected as an incident of alleged harassment. He categorically refuted the same.

After a long delay of over 10 days, he was informed that the complaint has been received against him. He said that the alleged complaint is clearly motivated, false and an afterthought with oblique motive.

The language of the complaint itself shows that it is false with inherent contradictions.

PartyTejpal’s main plea is that the Complainant continued to attend, participate in the conference / festival with lan. She took part in the evening festivals of which there will be CCTV coverage, photographs another documents to substantiate that all was normal and no occurrence as alleged took place.

Tejpal in his Petition has categorically and immediately refuted each….and every allegation. He says that Shoma Chaudhry refused to listen to his version and overrode him and told him that she was making the decision in Tehelka’s interest. He was told a committee was being set up in terms of “Vishakha guidelines” as has been laid down by the Supreme Court of India by the managing editor and accordingly advised to step down for 6 months so that an unbiased enquiry is conducted.
Accordingly he stepped down for six months.

He says that he was further told that in terms of the “Vishakha Guidelines” to have an impartial inquiry the guidelines and law mandate the transfer of the purported delinquent, Tejpal immediately.

Tejpal told the Court that the alleged writing was published by the media to victimize him and as part of the pre-planned conspiracy to falsely implicate him. He says that the same was being blown out of proportion by various groups with vested interests, including topmost executives of Goa and even national political leaders of one party. A copy of the statement made by the CM of Goa on Nov 21 was attached with the Petition as Annexure A.

The bias which the investigation in the instant matter is propelled can best be illustrated from the news report which appeared in Times of India on Nov 24 which was attached as Annexure-B.

Tejpal says that on Nov 22, he, through media reports learnt of the registration of an FIR against him by Goa Police under Sections 354A, 376, 376(2)(k) of the IPC, which clearly is founded solely on the basis of media reports.

It is pertinent that no complaint has been made either by Complainant or any person of her family.  Further no medical statement has been made to the state Police. It is unprecedented that the state should make a complaint or register an FIR without the knowledge, statement or consent of any aggrieved complainant without any person with a grievance or with locus for a preliminary inquiry in an alleged occurrence of this nature.  This is particularly significant as reference to the alleged occurrence by the Complainant is after more than 10 days of the alleged incident which took place on 7th-8tth of November 2013 and is belated and on after thought more than 2000 invitees and guests attended the festival and its social event.

Tejpal says that he has well found reasons to believe that the officers of the State Police in their endeavour to appease their political masters are turning a blind eye to crucial pieces of evidence establishing his innocence in abrogation of its primary duty, i.e. to conduct a fair investigation and reveal the truth.

Moreover, the mannerism and the scale in which a particular political party has unleashed the wrath of its vengeance upon Tejpal in garb of the present FIR is synonymous to the previous attempts of the BJP to malign and target him and the same is apparent by the statements issued by various party leaders.

The wrath of leaders of BJP against him, whom the Goa Police cannot antagonize, is best manifested from the statements made by them demanding that Tejpal should “atone in jail.”

Some have even alluded to Tehelka’s first sting operation which resulted in the resignation of the then BJP President, Bangaru Laxman, suggesting it was now payback time.

Tejpal told the Delhi High Court that in light of the above acts and circumstances, he has no trust in the Goa police and believes that the State Police  because of the political interference and the mala fides of the state government is turning blind eye to the crucial pieces of evidence establishing his innocence.  He therefore sought intervention of the High Court under section 438 of CRPC against any unreasonable deprivation of his liberty by the Investigating authorities on the following Legal Grounds:

BECAUSE, as per Capt. Satish Kumar Sharma vs Delhi Administration, ILR 1990 DELHI 203, the Court has held :

“………. viewed from different angle, under Art. 226 of the Constitution the High Court has been given still wider powers. 

Under Art. 226(2) it has been provided that the power conferred by Clause (1) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Government, authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or the residence of such persons is not within those territories…………In other words, the Applicant is sought to be deprived of his personal liberty and threatened to be arrested in Delhi within the jurisdiction of High Court of Delhi and through the police officers of Delhi to whom the warrant has been endorsed, although the offence is alleged to have been committed in the State of Uttar Pradesh. Therefore, it cannot be disputed that since there is a threat of deprivation of liberty of the Applicant in the State of Delhi in connection with an offence alleged to have been committed in the State of Uttar Pradesh, the cause of action in part certainly arises in Delhi. 

Therefore, this Court has Jurisdiction in the matter irrespective of the scat of the Government or the High Court within whose jurisdiction the offence is alleged to have been committed.

Therefore, in the light of the discussion above, we have no doubt in mind that since the Applicant has reason to believe that he may be arrested on an accusation of having committed a non-bailable offence in Delhi, this Court has certainly the jurisdiction to enlarge the Applicant on anticipatory bail under S. 438 of the Criminal P.C. as well as under Art. 226 of the Constitution.”.

BECAUSE, it is well established that as per the cardinal principles of criminal jurisprudence each and every person accused of a crime is entitled to a free and fair investigation and any interference in the investigation would eventually deprive a person of his right to a fair trial.

The Supreme Court has laid down time and time again that investigation into a criminal offence must be free from objectionable features or infirmities which may legitimately lead to a grievance on the part of the accused that investigation was unfair and carried out with an ulterior motive.

The bias of BJP against Tejpal is a well known fact and has earlier been nastily manifested in a manner in which Tehelka was targeted post its expose on corrupt defence deals in 2001 and was forced to shut down operations for over 3 years as well as many of its employees being implicated in false criminal cases.

The mannerism and the scale in which BJP has unleashed the wrath of its vengeance upon Tejpal in garb of the present FIR is synonymous to the previous attempts of BJP to malign and target Tejpal and the same is apparent by the statements issued by various party leaders including the present Chief Minister of Goa..

BECAUSE, the Law Commission of India, in its 41st Report dated September 24, 1969 pointed out the necessity of introducing a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure enabling the High Court and the Court of Sessions to grant “anticipatory bail”.

It observed in para 39.9 of its report (Volume I) and the same is set out as under:

“The suggestion for directing the release of a person on bail prior to his arrest (commonly known as “anticipatory bail”) was carefully considered by us. 

Though there is a conflict of judicial opinion about the power of a court to grant anticipatory bail, the majority view is that there is no such power under the existing provisions of the Code. 

The necessity for granting anticipatory bail arises mainly because sometimes influential persons try to implicate their rivals in false cases for the purpose of disgracing them or for other purposes by getting them detained in jail for some days. 

In recent times, with the accentuation of political rivalry, this tendency is showing signs of steady increase. 

Apart from false cases, where there are reasonable grounds for holding that a person accused of an offence is not likely to abscond, or otherwise misuse his liberty while on bail, there seems no justification to require him first to submit to custody, remain in prison for some days and then apply for bail.”

BECAUSE, Statement of Objects and Reasons for introducing section 438 in the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, itself clarifies that Section 438 was introduced as it was felt imperative to evolve a device by which an alleged accused is not compelled to face ignominy and disgrace at the instance of influential people who try to implicate their rivals in false cases.

BECAUSE, Tejpal apprehends the instant investigation being carried out by the Goa Police is patently tainted, unfair and is being used as an opportunity to satisfy the long standing grudge of the political executive against the works and ideological stand of Tejpal, the same is apparent by the actions of political executives of Goa and those of his party who have unleashed their wrath of vengeance against the Petitioner in garb of the aforementioned FIR.

It is pertinent to note here that, the present FIR pertains to false and concocted version of an intimate encounter between two individuals which has been played out as allegations of sexual assault against the Petitioner and it is clear that the same are being propelled as part of some malafide scheme.

The examination of the CCTV footage of Hotel Hyatt, Goa for the days of 7thand 8th of November, 2013 will not only unveil the concoction but will also establish the innocence of the Petitioner/accused.

The factum contained in the CTV footage is well within the knowledge of the present Investigating Agency, however, the Investigating Agency, in its endeavor to please its political masters is turning a blind eye to it in abrogation of its primary duty, i.e. to conduct a fair investigation and reveal the truth.

BECAUSE, the mandates contained in Article 21 of the constitution places human rights and dignity for human life at the highest pedestal and the principle of an accused being presumed innocent till proven guilty, forms the basis of Indian criminal jurisprudence and therefore it is obligatory that the investigation should be judicious, fair, transparent and free from incumbencies of any political interference to ensure compliance with the basic rule of law.

That, apprehending arrest and deprivation of personal liberty in connection with the FIR, Tejpal is constrained to move the present application under section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 [hereinafter referred to as ‘the Code’] safeguard his liberty in terms of the stipulations contained therein.

BECAUSE, the mandates contained in Article 21 of the constitution places human rights and dignity for human life at the highest pedestal and the principle of an accused being presumed innocent till proven guilty, forms the basis of Indian criminal jurisprudence and therefore it is obligatory that the investigation should be judicious, fair, transparent and free from incumbencies of any political interference to ensure compliance with the basic rule of law.

That, Tejpal is a person of formidable credentials and is a law-abiding citizen with immense respect for due process of law. And that he undertakes to join the investigation as and when required or called upon and shall extend his fullest cooperation to the authorities in the conduct of their ongoing investigation. And that he is ready and willing to face the investigation in order to prove himself innocent and is merely seeking a fair chance to defend himself effectively. And that he has deep roots in society and poses no flight risk and there can be no apprehension of him absconding from justice or tampering with evidence. And that he is ready to comply with any condition imposed by this Hon’ble Court while granting him anticipatory bail and shall further comply with all the notices/ summons served on him and undertakes to fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Tejpal assured the Court that under no circumstance he has interfered with the investigation, nor will he refrain himself at any point of time from providing any information/ documents as required by the investigating agencies. He said that the present matter is not a case, where custodial interrogation as nothing is recovered from or at his instance.

Tejpal however, withdrew the above Petition probably after Justice Sunita Gupta had not given him bail at the outset and had reserved her order in the matter. The earlier petition was moved by advocate Sandeep Kapur.

The subsequent bail petition on Nov 29 was moved by lawyer Geeta Luthra who later told reporters later that he has been given interim bail till 2.30 p.m.

“We moved for anticipatory bail since it is the right of all citizens to have liberty. Even the Supreme Court has said that liberty of a person should not be interfered with,” Luthra said. She said Tejpal has already sent a letter to Goa police saying he will cooperate with them. “It is not that we are going away. We will cooperate.” When asked where Tejpal is, she said Tejpal has to be available to the court and police and would come at an appropriate time. The lawyer said the police have only issued summons and he has to be given reasonable time to present himself before the Investigating officer. A person who does not live in the city needs time to present himself before the authority, she said and claimed that Tejpal has maintained respect for the law. He has tried to do everything by the law. “We are saying that the person has to be heard. He will speak to the police and will cooperate with them,” she said.

Tejpal’s wife Geetan Batra refused to divulge to the police any detail of his whereabouts, police said after they raided his residence.

The police action came after they rejected Tejpal’s request for time till Nov 30 to appear before them.

On Nov 27, Goa police had directed Tejpal to appear before it by 3 p.m. the next day. The direction had come after the victim, who has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by him in a lift in a five-star hotel in Goa, recorded her statement under Section 164 of CrPC before a magistrate in Panaji.

In the Delhi High Court, Tejpal’s counsel took the plea that: 

  • FIR registration is abuse of police power, done at behest of political masters
  • They have a bone to pick and want to teach a lesson.
  • Seeking temporary relief until proper authority can be approached
  • Sec 376 (rape) itself is abuse of police power. It is not sexual assault
  • Arrest leads to many serious consequences. A lot of humiliation attached with arrest for accused and family.
  • Exact role is attempt and not 376 as alleged in FIR. Even according to new law there must be penetration
  • Applicant is man enough to admit mistake. This shows there is some morality. Has stepped aside to enable inquiry
  • They have the CCTV footage, unless they have destroyed it
  • If one sees CCTV footage, there is not even an offence of 354
  • If CCTV footage is destroyed, valuable evidence will be lost

The plea was opposed by the Goa government’s counsel on the grounds that:

  • Delhi High Court has no jurisdiction to grant bail
  • The happened in Goa and FIR is registered in Goa
  • Investigation is being done by Goa crime branch
  • Statement of girl being recorded in Goa as we speak
  • Tejpal goes underground. Does not surface anywhere. No warrant. And he’s come to this court. Tejpal counsel responded to this ground by saying that Tejpal is not underground. He will go to Goa and will apply for bail there, but he is asking for anticipatory transit bail.
  • A serious heinous offence(s) of rape under new amendments is registered which occurred on two consecutive dates
  • Position of dominance, position to manipulate job between a man who is married with family with an employee who is a friend of daughter who he has known as a child
  • It is the duty of police to register a case even if complainant doesn’t come forward
  • Police officer cannot avoid duty of registering offence if it comes to his notice
  • She (the journalist) was worried about her father’s medical position among other things
  • We can sit across the table and sort it out, Tejpal’s family member has said when she came home (also cites complaint made by her mother to police)
  • There is admission of accused in mails. It’s an open and shut case.

Tehelka Investigation

Nov 20 evening, Shoma Chaudhury said in a message posted on Tehelka’s website said that the magazine has “now constituted a formal complaints committee, in accordance to Vishaka guidelines, to be presided over by Urvashi Butalia, eminent feminist and publisher, to investigate the matter.”

The Vishaka guidelines refer to a set of requirements for employers dealing with complaints of sexual assaults, laid down by the Supreme Court in a 1997 judgment.

Chaudhary also said Tehelka will ensure the “setting up of a formal complaints committee, according to section 4 of the Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013), an institutional mechanism that was sorely missing in Tehelka.”

People familiar with the woman journalist had said she was weighing her options and would probably be willing to cooperate with the inquiry that has been initiated by the Goa government.

“Her main aim is to make sure there is an institutional apparatus within Tehelka, such as a sexual harassment committee that would look into such matters,”

Legal Reactions

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On Nov 28, Shoma Chaudhury resigned as Managing Editor of Tehelka, who is being accused of attempting to cover up the matter. Actually, she should be given credit for messing up the case for Tejpal. She resigned after demands that she may also be named in the FIR for certain alleged acts of omission and commission after the scandal became public.

Arundhati Roy, in an article, stated that Tarun Tejpal was one of the partners in India Ink, the publishing house that initially published my novel The God of Small Things. I have been asked by a number of journalists for my reaction to the recent events. I have been hesitant to say anything because of the howling media circus. It seemed vile to kick a man when he was down, especially when it seemed pretty clear that he would not get off lightly and that punishment for what he had done was coming his way. But now I am not so sure. The lawyers have moved in, and the big political wheels have begun to spin. My silence is liable to be vested with all sorts of absurd meaning.

Tarun was a friend for many years. With me he was always generous and always supportive. I have been an admirer of Tehelka too, albeit on an issue to issue basis. To me Tehelka’s great moments were when it published Ashish Khetan’s sting operation on some of the perpetrators of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom and Ajit Sahi’s work on the SIMI trials. However, Tarun and I inhabited very different worlds and our views (on politics as well as literature) far from bringing us together, caused us to drift apart. What has happened now has not shocked me, but it has broken my heart.

The evidence against Tarun suggests that he has grievously sexually assaulted a young colleague of his during the ‘ThinkFest’, an ‘intellectual’ carnival run by him in Goa. The ThinkFest was sponsored by a consortium of Mining Corporations, some who are themselves accused of misdeeds on a gargantuan scale. Ironically, in other parts of the country the sponsors of ThinkFest have contributed to creating a climate in which scores of adivasi women have been raped and murdered, and thousands of people have been imprisoned as well as killed. Several lawyers have said that according to the new law, the nature of Tarun’s sexual assault amounts to rape. Tarun himself has admitted to his crime in his own emails and text messages to the woman he assaulted. From his position of uncontested power as her boss, he then loftily apologized to her, and then in an act that can only be described as delusionary, announced his own punishment—six months of leave in order to “lacerate” himself. Now that it has become a police matter, on the advice of fat cat lawyers whose services only the very rich can afford, Tarun begun to do what many men accused of rape do—vilify the woman he preyed on and call her a liar. Outrageously, it is being suggested that Tarun is being ‘framed’ for political reasons—presumably by the Right-wing Hindutva brigade. So now a young woman who he very recently saw fit to employ, is not just a loose woman, but an agent of the fascists? This is Rape Number Two: the rape of the values and the politics that Tehelka claims it stands for, and an affront to those who work there and who have supported it in the past.

Barkha Dutt is Group Editor, NDTV, in an article titled `Free, fair, fearless. That is Tehelka’s definition of itself. Where is courage now?’ said that “like so many other journalists who have known Tarun Tejpal and his family for several years — he also lives down the road from my home in Delhi — my first response to the horrific details emerging, still only bit by bit, was one of shock and disbelief. At this moment, all one knew was the rather abrupt internal announcement that he was to step down for six months after what the magazine’s managing editor described as an “untoward incident”. It was only much later, when I was able to read the detailed, stomach-churning account of the written complaint by the young journalist who said she had been grievously violated by the man she saw as a paternal and professional mentor that I understood the gravity of what was happening. Disbelief turned to disappointment and disgust; now, as a woman, as a journalist, I was angry.

I felt absolutely sickened by the thought of this young reporter, still only in her early 20s, being assaulted and sexually abused, not once, but twice, by her boss, who, according to her written complaint, retained the arrogant audacity to send her casual text messages about it.

The hypocrisy was staggering. Here was a man who had always claimed to champion the cause of those who live on the margins of our society now accused of using his position of authority to transgress every boundary of decency, remembering in what he brazenly called “drunken banter” to warn the young woman that surrendering to the violence was the “easiest way to keep the job”.

Several senior lawyers have already explained that what Tejpal is charged with and chose to call — in an internal e-mail — an “awful misreading” and a “lapse of judgment” under the new amended law, qualifies as rape. That’s how serious the indictment was in the journalist’s first-person narration of what unfolded in an elevator of a Goa hotel.

In a week that saw the media chase two big stories with gender at their heart — the hidden harassment of women in the highest echelons of the judiciary and the alleged surveillance of a young woman in Gujarat, how could we possibly sustain our critique of politicians and judges with any credibility without now turning the lens sharply inwards?

Sexual assault is a crime, a grave breach of the law and any such complaint requires legal scrutiny and investigation. It is in its first set of responses to the complaint that Tehelka fell astonishingly short of the standards it likes to demand of others.

Barraged with probing questions from reporters, its managing editor initially described the issue as “an internal matter”, one that she argued had been resolved to the “satisfaction” of the young journalist at the heart of the storm. Her internal e-mail to her office colleagues announcing the temporary stepping down of its editor-in-chief failed to detail the gravity of the charges that had been made against him or the fact that they pertained to a complaint of sexual assault.

In fact, reading her mail or the appended mail of Tejpal, one got no sense of what the young woman had actually chronicled in her own account. The journalist quickly let it be known that far from being satisfied, she was actually “disappointed” with the response of her organisation. Her relatives and friends went on national television and let it be known that the allegation was of “grave sexual misconduct”.

If they hadn’t done so, and if her account had not leaked into the public domain, we may never have known how serious her charges were. She was also quick to point out that while the editor’s letters had been circulated widely among all employees of Tehelka , her letter had not been given the same wide audience.

By the mandate of the Supreme Court in what has come to be known as the Vishaka verdict, Tehelka should have already had an internal mechanism in place to process such complaints. Not just did the sexual harassment committee not exist, it was not set up as an immediate response to the complaint that was first received by the management on Monday.

Instead, it took sustained public pressure and repeated statements from the young journalist before an announcement that such a panel would be put together was made. Imagine now, how scathing Tehelka would have been while reporting such institutional gaps and insensitivities involving politicians or judges.

Now the young woman’s narrative is being contested. According to Tehelka’s managing editor, Tejpal presented an “entirely different version” which she “over-rode” because of her “commitment to women’s rights”, and because “regardless of the differing versions he had transgressed as leader of the institution”.

She says the newly-appointed harassment panel will determine which version is true, with Tejpal claiming that what happened was consensual and not forced. She also admits that her first e-mail could and should have been worded more sensitively. But disappointingly, till the Goa Police filed an FIR booking Tejpal on charges of rape, Tehelka continued to maintain that a criminal case was not necessary, unless the victim herself filed one.

The controversy has lifted the lid on the one of the media’s worst kept secrets. We may like to judge others, but our own workspace can be just as hostile to women. For too long many of us have remained silent at the receiving end of harassment, not only out of fear, but because we don’t want to open another front in a profession where we already have to be better than the men to be considered equals.

But silence is the enemy of justice, and is no longer an option. Hierarchy cannot become a license for harassment. This is every woman’s battle.

Indrajit Hazra, in an article titled `when the perpetrator is one of us’ says “what happens when one of us is the perpetrator? What happens if the crime is rape, a crime that we tell our friends and family to be wary of and intolerant against, never thinking it necessary to warn them of committing?

Tarun Tejpal was a friend. My initial response to the news of Tarun sexually assaulting a colleague was sadness. This wasn’t the response I would have had if the perpetrator had been a stranger or even a passing acquaintance. But as details of his actions came to light, my sadness curdled into something more familiar, more honest.

The fact that an editor has been accused of rape makes every (male) journalist uncomfortable. Acts of such a non-consensual nature — or those involving the not-too-subtle form of bullying by using one’s position of power — have been relegated to the social networking site of professional gossip and that hoary hideout called ‘internal matters’. That the woman did not always choose to complain was unerringly read as a sign of partial consensus and that the coast was clear for the ‘incident’ to enter the semi-mythological world of hormonal office powerplay where ‘you’ are never the news but other people are.

To talk about things like this beyond the realm of ‘nudge-nudge, wink-winks’ or matronly headshaking was not only deemed inappropriate but the mark of a self-righteous traitor. Like an old boys’ network or one of those political parties that every self-respecting journalist loves to deliver a fiery sermon on the mount to, journalists, like lawyers, are meant to close rank. Dogs don’t bite dogs, went the canine dictum.

The business of taking the flak off ‘one of your own’ isn’t, of course, confined to journalists. But we journalists do sit at the mouth of a giant funnel that delivers information, news and opinion to the outside world. That’s why people want to be friendly with journalists and editors. Not because we always make delightful company, but because if at some point a lawyer or a politician or a businessman gets himself in trouble (usually by causing trouble to others), his proximity to a journalist can help in ‘controlling the situation’.

Which makes it vital that when a journalist is the perpetrator, other journalists don’t go ‘public relations manager’ on him.

It would be unnatural for a journalist not to think hard whether he is being too sanctimonious before condemning Tarun Tejpal. It would be unnatural for male journos not to put themselves mentally in his shoes and shudder at the thought of what he is being accused of. A ‘What if I had been caught?’ reel certainly played in my head making me think twice about writing this column.

Holding back one’s condemnation can be dressed up as ‘loyalty’ or as staying away from a lynch mob doused in self-righteousness. But to hold one’s tongue — the same tongue that flaps like a sock in a wind-tunnel even when indiscreet, rather than criminal, actions are committed by others — just because the perpetrator is ‘one of us’ is nothing short of giving the licence to selective criminal behaviour.

The fear of relishing schadenfreude — the feeling of enjoying someone else’s suffering — can make fellow journalists wary of condemning Tejpal. But criminal proceedings, and not any Biblical-style self-determined atonement or our feelings towards a very fine journalist, will decide his fate.

For far too long, influence and closeness to power have been allowed to be seen as factors determining whether people in this country can get away with proverbial murder — and, in this case, literal rape. If Tarun’s case is made to be a test case to overturn this feudal system, so be it. It is sad that I now know someone accused of rape. But at least I’m no longer under the illusion that rapists are always ‘other people’.

Manjula Narayan, a former Tehelka employee, wrote in the Hindustan Times, that “ludicrous as it sounds, I have Karan Johar to thank for propelling me to quit Tehelka three-and-a-half years ago. When the ‘think’ piece on the film maker was done, Shoma Chaudhury thought it wasn’t ‘nuanced’. I gave the piece a hysterical-serious voice – the preferred style of feature writing at the magazine – and checked out of office at 1am on production day confident that this bit of exalted literature broke new ground in the deeply intellectual area of popular Hindi film journalism. The piece was pulled just before it went to print. Perhaps it was my sheepish appreciation of Johar’s talent for emotional manipulation that did it in.

So, no, unlike the unfortunate Raman Kirpal who found his huge story on illegal mining in Goa in 2011 killed, allegedly in exchange for approvals and sponsorships for ThinkFest, I didn’t walk away for admirable ideological reasons, or because Tarun Tejpal lunged at me. I just couldn’t handle the need to assign meaningful subtexts to Bollywood melodramas or the disorganized work schedules.

After news broke of the ongoing epistolatory drama that is at once shocking and faintly ridiculous – mainly for Tejpal’s vocabulary and his inability to grasp that he’s dealing with a furious and very determined adversary – the buzz on social networking was that many who knew him were not very surprised.

The Tejpal I encountered, however, was a charismatic editor always willing to let a reporter chase down a good story anywhere in the nation’s vast expanse. Supremely articulate, he held forth on the need to demolish religious and caste prejudice, to push liberal values. It was the sort of stuff that those who want desperately to believe that writing can change the world, bring water to remote villages, destroy khap panchayats, right gender imbalance, stamp out evil from the land, or at the very least destroy a pompous novelist’s ego, thrilled to. That Tehelka had broken some of the best stories of the noughties – Operation Westend (2001) and Naroda Patiya (2007) – added to Tejpal’s halo.

The belief that he is contributing to something larger than himself can make an individual endure haphazard timings and unhealthy internal politicking. But almost everyone – except Shoma Chaudhury – eventually leaves. Some are disillusioned by the disconnect between the stories featured and those who fund the magazine, others by the cultish aura of the place, still others by the lofty talk of saving the poor while courting the rich at events like the Thinkfest and the stillborn salon Prufrock. Afterwards, they turn bitter, their admiration for the magazine replaced by revulsion, their anger stoked with each new unhappy event – last year it was the death of photographer Tarun Sehrawat, this year it is the sexual assault. Unsurprisingly, much of the blowback on social networking and in the media has come from former employees.

The Tehelka experience didn’t leave me bitter. Instead, it confirmed my belief that nothing is what it seems. Maybe I am too cynical to last in a place like that. Or maybe Karan Johar really is my guardian angel in disguise.

Kavita Krishnan, secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association said that the institutional response by Tehelka had been shabby.

With regard to the legal options available to the victim, Supreme Court advocate Karuna Nundy said, “She can file a criminal case, a suit in court asking for financial damages, in addition to a writ petition through which the government can instruct Tehelka to set up a sexual harassment committee.” She said the absence of a sexual harassment committee in Tehelka was “surprising”.

Nundy said there are larger issues that need to be addressed as well. “The only manner through which this can be weeded out is (through) the law wielding a stick and an internal conviction that would sensitize and habituate a sense of control among relevant actors in the workplace and beyond,” she added.

A clutch of human resources (HR) experts believe that a third-party investigation is the best practice for organizations to follow, especially if members of top management are involved in sexual harassment cases. “They should have had an anti-sexual harassment committee in place. For a path-breaking organization like Tehelka, which has strongly upheld several causes, you need to be scrupulous in every dimension, including the internal ones. It is unfortunate that they do not have a mechanism or an established ecosystem in place to address such issues for the employee stakeholder,” said Hema Ravichandar, strategic HR adviser and former HR head at Infosys Ltd.

“Given what has happened so far, there is no confidence that this matter can be handled impartially, internally,” she added.

Siddharth Varadarajan, former Editor of The Hindu newspaper, believes media organizations need to create a conducive environment for female workers and to make sure they critically examined such incidents. “How can you speak truth to power if you are unwilling to critically examine your own industry?” he asked. “People are fed up with the media holding their own members to other standards.”

Meanwhile, PTI reported that the revelations about the alleged sexual assaults have cost Tejpal membership of the Prasar Bharti board.

Tejpal was selected as a member of the board by a committee headed by vice-president Hamid Ansari, people familiar with the situation said. Soon after the allegations came to light last night, Ansari asked the information and broadcasting ministry to cancel Tejpal’s membership, these people added.

Tehelka’s Defense

Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury mentioned on NDTV that Tejpal and she were being judged solely on the “wrong tonality” of the earlier leaked emails, and that the unconditional apology that Tarun Tejpal had given the complainant could perhaps help place Tehelka’s behaviour in context.

Tejpal himself put out a statement:

There have been serious allegations cast on me in this last week, and unfortunately as sometimes happens in life, the complete truth and the need to do the honorable thing can come into conflict. In this case this anguish was accentuated by the fact that very many intimate people, professional and personal, were involved.

For four days, as demanded by Shoma Chaudhury, the managing editor, and the recipient of the complaint, I have tried to do what was honorably demanded of me. On Nov 19, I issued an apology for the alleged misconduct, as desired by the journalist through Shoma Chaudhury. On Nov 20, I stepped down from the editorship of Tehelka and removed myself from the office premises. On Nov 21, I learnt of  the formation of the complaints committee.  

I offer my fullest cooperation to the police and all other authorities, and look to  presenting all the facts of this incident to it. I also urge the committee and the police to obtain, examine and release the cctv footage so that the accurate version of events stands clearly revealed. 

We have been able to get a copy of the “unconditional apology” that Tarun Tejpal wrote to the young journalist on November 19, which, inter alia, clearly states:

This is the hardest thing I will ever do in my life. You are a young woman I have been very proud of, as a colleague’s daughter, and then as a colleague in my own office. I have watched you grow and mature professionally into a journalist of great integrity and promise.

It wrenches me beyond describing, therefore, to accept that I have violated that long-standing relationship of trust and respect between us and I apologise unconditionally for the shameful lapse of judgement that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on 7 November and 8 November 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me.

I understand the extreme distress you have been feeling and if regret could turn time back, the force of mine would surely place us all back in a space and time before this terrible lapse.

I know you feel I used my position as Editor, Tehelka to force my attention on you, and I acknowledge that I did at one point say to your contention that I was your boss, “That makes it simpler,” but I do want to put on record that the moment those words escaped my lips, I retracted them saying “I withdraw that straight away – no relationship of mine has anything at all, ever, to do with that”. I want to reiterate that again today: despite my colossal lapse, working and succeeding in Tehelka will never be predicated on anyone acquiescing to anything untoward. It never has and never will. Having said that though, I acknowledge that there is an inherent disbalance of power in my position as editor-in-chief and you as an employee of Tehelka and there is absolutely no ground or circumstance in which I should have violated the propriety and trust embedded in that relationship.

Tehelka has a proud legacy and body of work, to which you yourself and legions of other journalists have contributed. As the founder and editor-in-chief, I have helmed and nurtured this proud institution, and I cannot imagine what insanity drove me to compromise these long, proud years of trust and public work.

There are many, many reasons, therefore, why I am smothered with regret. But I want you to know that foremost among them is the fact that I have hurt you and broken your trust in me, and that of many others around me. I have often spoken for the absolute rights and freedoms of women, and it shames me beyond words, to find myself located in this awful context. I would say it was a moment of insanity, except that would mean evading responsibility for it, and that I will not do. I hold myself, first and last, accountable.

I know Shoma has urged you not to leave Tehelka, and even as I acknowledge that I have lost the right to say this to you, I would urge you not to leave either. At the very least, I would like to assure you that the space to do your work proudly and freely, without worrying about fear or favour, will always be available to you here.

For long years, you have known a different man, a man and editor you trusted and were proud to know. In extreme contrition, I would like you to know that but for this unconscionable lapse, that man still exists and holds you in highest regard.

If an apology can heal, please consider this an unconditional one.

I apologise unconditionally for the shameful lapse of judgement that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on 7 November and 8 November 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me.

That even this ‘unconditional apology’ itself was insincere becomes clear from the response to this email by the young journalist who writes categorically:

In response to this email, the complainant responded on November 21, in an email to Shoma Chaudhury that Tejpal’s account of what happened on Nov 7 & 8 differed from hers on the following counts:

The use of the words “sexual liaison” is a clear misrepresentation of facts, and an attempt to obfuscate the truth — that he sexually molested me, on two separate occasions and that he violated my bodily integrity and trust.

He did not even once, utter the words “I withdraw that straight away – no relationship of mine has anything at all, ever, to do with that”. I have written this in my response to his ‘private’ email to me as well, which is cc’d to you and my colleagues who have known about him sexually molesting me from Nov 7.

In conversations with my colleagues you have said that you do not contest the facts of my testimony, which is why you do not see it necessary to constitute an anti sexual harassment cell as per the Vishakha guidelines in this case. However, given that his apology presents an entirely different version from my testimony, i.e. attempts to establish that a “sexual liaison” took place as opposed to him sexually molesting me, I insist once again in the spirit of justice, to constitute an anti sexual harassment cell in accordance with the Vishakha guidelines to investigate this matter. 

I demand that you publicly withdraw your statement that I or other Tehelka journalists are “satisfied”, since my colleagues do not know the full extent of what was done to me, and I am deeply hurt that as my mentor, you could suggest in any way that this blatant misrepresentation of facts would be satisfactory to me.  

Tejpal told the Indian Express that:

“It is a totally mendacious account of what happened, in its details, in its tonalities, in its very suggestion of non-consensus.” 

“In cold light of day, much of it will sound unsavoury, but now the inquiry will reveal it all” 

Tejpal also said that the allegation by the journalist that he told her the best way to keep her job was by not resisting his advances, was a “half-truth”. “This is one of the half-truths she’s voiced. Nothing of this, as she states, was said or intended,” he said.

“My lawyers know I am being framed, and are also aware of the political forces driving much of it now,” he added.

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Here is the complete e-mail of the victim to Tehelka’s Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury

Dear Shoma,

It is extremely painful for me to write this email to you – I have struggled with finding an easier way to say it, but there isn’t one. The editor in chief of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal, sexually assaulted me at Think on two occasions last week. From the very first moment, I wanted to call you, or find you and tell you what he had done to me – but given how absorbed you were at Think; preparing for and conducting sessions, and the fact that it was impossible for the two of us to get even a minute alone together, I could not. To add to this, I had to process the fact that it was Tarun who molested me — my father’s ex colleague and friend, Tiya’s dad, and someone I had so deeply respected and admired for so many years.

Both times, I returned to my room in a completely distraught condition, trembling and crying. I went straight to Shougat and Ishan’s room, where I called G Vishnu and told them what had been done to me. (All three of them are copied on this email. You can contact them for any clarifications you see necessary). The second time he molested me, I even told Tiya what happened. When he heard I’d told Tiya (she confronted him), he lashed out at me, and I became truly terrified of what he would do. I avoided him in all situations except in rooms full of people, until I checked out of Think on Sunday.

As of Saturday evening, he sent me text messages insinuating that I misconstrued “a drunken banter”. That is not what happened. Banter does not involve forcing yourself on someone, trying to disrobe them, and penetrate them with your fingers despite them pleading for you to stop. As you read through the details of what happened in the attachment to this mail, I hope you will also understand how traumatic and terrifying it has been for me to report this to you — and yet how critical it is that Tehelka constitute an anti sexual harassment cell as per the Vishakha guidelines immediately, to investigate this matter. At the very least, I will need a written apology from Mr Tejpal and an acknowledgement of the same to be circulated through the organization. It cannot be considered acceptable for him to treat a female employee in this way.

On the night of 7th November 2013, the opening night of Tehelka’s Think festival, I had discharged my duties for the day as the chaperone for Mr Robert De Niro. As it was Mr De Niro and his daughter’s first night in Goa and at the festival, my editor in chief Mr Tarun Tejpal accompanied Mr De Niro, Drena De Niro (his daughter) and I to Mr De Niro’s suite to wish him goodnight. (As his chaperone, my work was to be available all day to Mr De Niro and Drena, take them sightseeing, make sure they were well looked after in Goa and at the Hyatt – until they retired to their suite at night).

As we left the suite, Mr Tejpal and I were in conversation — I have known him since I was a child, he had worked closely with my father who was also a journalist, and after my father’s accident Mr Tejpal had always been a paternal figure to me. He was responsible for offering me my first job, and was always just a phone call away whenever I needed his advice on a story or life. His daughter, Tiya Tejpal and I are very close friends as well.

As we made our way out of the elevator of Block 7 at the Grand Hyatt, Mr Tejpal held my arm and pulled me back into the lift. He said – “Let’s go wake up Bob” (Mr De Niro) and I asked him why he wanted to do that. I then realized that Mr Tejpal was simply pressing buttons on the lift’s panel to make the elevator stay in circuit, preventing it from stopping anywhere, and for the doors to open.

At this point, he began to kiss me — from the first moment of his doing so, I asked him to stop, citing several reasons, including my friendship to Tiya, my closeness to his family, the fact that he had known me since I was a child, the fact that I worked for Tehelka and for Shoma Chaudhury – who is my managing editor and mentor. It was like talking to a deaf person. Mr Tejpal lifted my dress up, went down on his knees and pulled my underwear down. He attempted to perform oral sex on me as I continued to struggle and hysterically asked him to stop. At that moment he began to try and penetrate me with his fingers, I became scared and pushed him hard and asked him to stop the lift. He would not listen. The lift stopped on the ground floor as Mr Tejpal’s hands were on me and could not press the button for yet another floor to keep it in circuit. As soon as the doors opened, I picked up my underwear and began walking out of the elevator rapidly – he was still following me, asking me  what the matter was.

I said “It’s all wrong. I work for you and Shoma.” He said first “It’s alright to be in love with more than one person,” and then he said, “Well, this is the easiest way for you to keep your job.” I was walking still faster, blinking back tears.

By this time, we had made our way from Block 7 to the main lawns of the Grand Hyatt, where I walked into the grassy dinner area full of people and Mr Tejpal walked off towards the performance area. Right as soon as he was out of sight, I took a taxi back to my hotel – the International Centre for Goa, where the Tehelka staff was staying, and went to the room where the Literary Editor Shougat Dasgupta and the Photo Editor Ishan Tankha were staying. I also called another friend and colleague – investigative reporter G Vishnu to the room and told them what had occurred. While the four of us were talking in the balcony, Mr Tejpal sent me a text message from his personal phone number at 1.17 am, which said “The fingertips”. This was the extent he had managed to penetrate me before I pushed him and ran out of the lift. I told the people with me on the balcony about this. Some of us considered resigning as soon as Think was over. I called my boyfriend Aman Sethi in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from Ishan Tankha’s iPhone and told him what had happened.

I was confused, hurt and really, really scared. At that point I did not want to lose my job. And so the next morning, I went about my work determined not to give Mr Tejpal or Tehelka a reason to fire me, as I was sure they would do once this story got out. At a few points of the day, I discussed the events of the previous night with Shougat Dasgupta, G Vishnu and Ishan Tankha, who were concerned about me after the state they had seen me in the previous night. In the afternoon, I accompanied Mr De Niro, his daughter, Sir VS Naipaul, Lady Naipaul and Mr Tejpal’s wife to the Governor’s bungalow for lunch.

Given the company we were in, I did not make any mention of what had occurred to Ms Geetan Batra, Mr Tejpal’s wife. Once I had escorted Mr De Niro back to his room post lunch, he expressed a desire to attend one of the sessions at the Main Hall. I brought him down to the Green Room, where Mr Tejpal found us, and asked me to bring Mr De Niro back down for Mr Amitabh Bachchan’s session as he wanted the two to meet. I took Mr De Niro and his daughter shopping to Panjim, and brought them back in time for Mr Bachchan’s session as instructed. Once the session was done, Mr Tejpal, Mr De Niro, Mr Bachchan and a few other members of the film industry, lawyers, politicians etc were supposed to meet at the Block 7 Grand Club for drinks.

I escorted Mr De Niro and Drena to this bar, told them I would return to my hotel, change, and be right back. While I was getting dressed at my hotel, Mr Tejpal called me from ThakurJi’s phone (Thakurji is the caretaker and manager of Tehelka’s Bombay office premises) and asked me where I was. I informed him I was just about to leave for the Grand Hyatt. In the taxi I noticed he had already sent me two text messages on my phone which said “Where r u?” at 8:29and then “??” at 8:42. from his personal number.

I replied with the following messages: “On my way to the lounge” 8.42 pm, “Had to sort out a lost package for Drena and get a bit presentable. See you in 10” at 8.44 pm and “Call tee she needs you” at 8.47 pm as Tiya had messaged me asking to help her find Tarun. At this point I was trying to be as normal and professional as possible and somehow get through my duties.

Five minutes later, as I was walking into the Grand Club at Block 7, Mr Tejpal was coming out of the lounge. He pointed at me asking me to stop. I was already worried that I was late and that Mr De Niro had asked for me. Mr Tejpal came to me and said “Come up with me, we have to get something from Bob’s room”. I was frightened that this would lead to a repeat of the previous night and so I said, “What does he need? I’ll go get it.” I was scared of getting into the lift with him again, and more terrified that he was going to try and take me into a room this time. By this time he was holding me by the wrist and had taken me into the lift (which is barely a few steps away from the lobby of block 7 where he had asked me to wait). When the doors closed, he started to try and kiss me again. I said “Tarun, please, no, just stop,” he pulled away, smiled, patted my cheek and said “Why? Ok. I’ll stop.” I said again “This just isn’t right. Tiya is my best friend. I had lunch with Geetan today.“

He smiled again and just for a moment I thought I had appealed to his better sense. I turned away from him, desperately waiting for the door to open (there are only three floors in Block 7 (G, 1 and 2), we were between floors). Within seconds of my turning around, he started to lift up my dress. He lifted it all the way up and said “You’re unbelievable”. The door opened on the second floor, on Mr De Niro’s floor —  and he said again – “The universe is telling us something” to which I said “I’m taking the stairs” and started to walk out. He pulled me back in, sensing that I was on the verge of hysteria — by this point, he was totally comfortable physically manhandling me, but sensing my sheer panic, he did not touch me until the lift reached the ground floor. Right as the doors were about to open, he patted my behind once more.

I walked out of the lift, went to the Grand Club and immediately informed Ishan Tankha that Mr Tejpal had tried to molest me again. Ishan said “Again? What the fuck is wrong with him?” He was completely disgusted and said once more that we should just resign immediately. As I was to accompany Mr De Niro to the dining area, I somehow composed myself. Mr De Niro was mobbed by fans – and I had to take him away from the main garden to the Capiz Bar. I was sitting at the Capiz Bar with Mr De Niro and his daughter when TiyaTejpal came there to join us.

This was the first time the two of us had really met since the incident of the previous night. Since I had moved to Mumbai about a year and a half ago, Tiya had grown to become one of my closest friends. She lives across the road from my house in Mumbai and barely a day had passed when the two of us did not meet or talk to each other constantly. She was sitting beside me, and Mr De Niro was absorbed in conversation with his daughter. I could not keep something of this magnitude from her. I told her she would hate me for what I was telling her – but that Mr Tejpal had tried to molest me on these two separate occasions. I said “He tried to shove his tongue down my throat and then took my panties off”, when Tiya replied saying “I saw him do this to a woman when I was thirteen, so it doesn’t surprise me anymore,” but she was clearly disgusted.

Tiya left the Capiz Bar right after this. In half an hour, Mr De Niro and Drena asked to be dropped back to their room. They were extremely upset at the day’s events because Mr De Niro had all but been assaulted by fans at the dinner table, and they asked me to convey this to Mr Tejpal. When I came down from Block 7, I found Mr Tejpal sitting at a table with several people and called him away from the table, but still in full view of everyone, so I could relay Mr De Niro’s message privately.

I said “Bob is really upset about tonight, he got mobbed really badly..” to which Mr Tejpal replied “I don’t give a fuck about Bob. How could you tell Tiya what happened?” I said “Tarun, I told you Tiya and I are close and what you did wasn’t okay, I had to tell her,” to which he said “She’s my daughter. Do you even understand what the word means? Just get away from me, I’m so fucking pissed off with you right now.”

I left from the spot crying, found Tiya outside her room in the main performance area and asked her what she had said to her father. She said “There was no other way. As soon as you told me I wished you hadn’t, but you can’t tell me what to say to him – I told him to keep it in his pants.” I said “I’m probably going to lose my job over this”, she agreed, but also said “It’ll be a bad phase but it’ll pass.” On this night as well, I left the Grand Hyatt and went to my hotel, found Shougat Dasgupta, Ishan Tankha and G Vishnu and told them what had happened. I also called my boyfriend and told him that Mr Tejpal was aware of the fact that I wasn’t staying quiet, and that he was extremely angry that I had told his daughter. The next morning, I called my mother and told her everything that had happened. Everyone was most worried for my safety and advised me to leave Think as soon as possible — however since my day’s work involved me staying away from the Grand Hyatt and staying at a completely different part of Goa for the day with Mr De Niro and his daughter, I felt temporarily safe.

At this time Mr Tejpal sent me the following texts from his personal number.

1. “I hope you told Tiya that it was just drunken banter, and nothing else”

To which I replied – “I told her we were both drunk” – because it was true that everyone had had a few drinks on the first night. But not the second, when he assaulted me minutes after I had reached the Grand Hyatt. However, this was the first time Mr Tejpal had said anything to me after lashing out at me the previous night, and I was still very afraid of him.

He then sent me a second message:

2. “And just banter, nothing else” – to which I did not reply, because there was no way what he had done to me could have been described as “banter”.

Sensing that I had clammed up at his attempt to sugar-coat what really happened, he sent me a third message:

3.  “Why?? What’s happened??”

I did not reply to this message. Within minutes, he sent me a fourth message, one that convinced me he saw absolutely nothing wrong with what he had done, and was in fact now trying to shame me for talking to Tiya:

4. “I can’t believe u went and mentioned even the smallest thing to her. What an absence of any understanding of a parent child relationship.”

After this message, I made sure to stay away from Mr Tejpal except when we were in extremely public situations only – such as the Speakers Green Room at the Hyatt, or the lobby of the hotel. That evening as well, I steered completely clear of him. He made no mention of anything that had occurred the next day, and the only thought on my mind was to get Mr De Niro on his plane and leave Think. I had to speak to MrTejpal several times on Sunday the 9th of November to coordinate Mr De Niro’s travel plans, but in these calls he made no mention of anything that had occurred. Once I dropped Mr De Niro to the Goa Airport at 4.30 pm, I had no further contact with Mr Tejpal.

However, on 16.11.2013, Mr Tejpal messaged me a number of times

1.“Have you spoken to Tee? Is she Ok?”

To which I replied: “Why would she be ok about the fact that you sexually assaulted her best friend, that is me?”

2.    “What’s with saying this awful stuff??”

To which I replied: Do not send me any messages. You are lying and you know that.

3.    “Oh is that so? I cherished you like one of my best kids always, all these years; and because of one drunken banter you so easily say these awful things.

To which I replied: It was twice Tarun, not once and it was no banter. You did the most horrible things to me and I certainly was not drunk. I asked you to stop repeatedly.

4.    “Oh so that’s what you told Tee. No wonder she’s so madly upset. Its ok. Am not going to contest anything with her. Will let time and my love heal what it can.”

5.     “Don’t think I’ve been more saddened in the longest time”

I have no doubt that Mr Tejpal was trying to establish his innocence in a devious manner. If he needed to get in touch with his daughter, he could have done so anytime he desired, through his wife or daughter or nephew or anyone from his family without messaging me about her, or falsely claiming that all that happened was ‘a drunken banter’. This was no banter, it was most clearly sexual assault. As a reporter for Tehelka who writes on violence against women, I suddenly find myself in the horrific situation of discovering what it is like to be on the receiving end of this violence from a powerful man I once deeply admired and respected. I truly hope that the idea of Tehelka is still intact – and that you will conduct an inquiry into this matter at the earliest.