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SC also not willing to give relief to Tejpal

Recently, the Supreme Court has kept aside the interim bail plea of Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal in the rape and sexual assault case against him but sought the Goa government’s response to his petition seeking regular bail. Appearing for Tejpal, senior advocate Harish Salve told a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Justices Ranjan Gogoi and NV Ramana that the trial would take a long time as the prosecution has cited 152 witnesses and has not completed formalities of providing the accused with the vital CCTV footage of the hotel in Goa where the alleged sexual assault took place in November last year. However, the bench rejected his application and said that they will hear the interim bail application after hearing the prosecution. SC issued notice to the Goa government seeking its response within three weeks to Tejpal’s bail plea and posted the petition for hearing in May. No one is there to help Tejpal to skip the jail. Even Kapil Sibal has not come to his rescue. Sibal is busy saving his own seat, where he is expected to lose pretty badly. Poor chap will have to pay for his misdeeds.

Tarun Tejpal, accused of raping a younger colleague in Goa earlier this month was seen troubled for the first time. He has done this heinous crime, earlier he was known as ‘King of Sting Operation’ and shocked many with his reports and stings. He has always acted as a ‘Media Guard’ for Congress. He behaved like a sharp-shooter for Congress and attacked those who went against it. Now, his time has come, he is running from pillar to post to save his own skin. Tehelka was never fair or free. It is the easiest thing to be on the side of entrenched powers and against those who seek to challenge them. I think, opposition party got readymade target to settle their scores against this Congress stooge. Tejpal got shocked when he was summoned by Goa police for interrogations. He told the Goa Police that he will not comply with the given deadline for his interrogation. He has written to the police, claiming that its notice asking him to present himself in Goa today was received late last night, which didn’t give him enough time to reach there today. His request for anticipatory bail was denied by Delhi High Court.

Tejpal’s lawyers told the court that he is innocent, and that the encounter that’s being described as rape was “light hearted bantering.” Person who has backing of Congress party and with the backing of party president, you can think how safe he is. Goa police won’t decide but Tejpal will decide when to appear before Goa police. Journalist who had accused him of sexual assault had ardently challenged his version of events, and accused Tehelka and her boss, Shoma Chaudhury, of trying to engineer a cover-up. She quit Tehelka after his arrest. Chaudhury also resigned from Tehelka after days of being pelted with criticism for her handling of the reporter’s complaint, sent to her via an email that was leaked. The power emanates from the fact that the superior can remove the subordinate from work at will. It dampens the employee’s spirit and affects her sense of judgment. It is not easy to fight such a case. It entails going public with something that one may want to forget. Tarun Tejpal is like many corporate honchos and others in high places who flaunt their position and power to explore and exploit. Till that time, women go into hiding to protect their identity and hesitate to openly challenge their perverted colleagues. Men will continue to assume that women are indeed weak and, for them, the shame of being exposed is greater than the shame of being molested. The Tehelka employee deserves praise for showing the way. When a woman who is sexually harassed complains boldly, belying the perpetrator’s belief that she will never do so, he tries the next trick of making society believe that the ‘encounter’ was ‘consensual.’

Surprisingly, there are rumours doing rounds about Sibal and Tejpal’s family relations. Sibal is also one of the financers of Tehelka magazine. However, Sibal have jumped to his own defense, seemingly needlessly. Either, he has persecution complex, or the accusations are true. If the former is true, he is unfit to be a cabinet minister. The post requires a fair bit of equanimity, and persecution complex is a fairly serious personality disorder. If the latter is true then he is been responsible for funding a criminal enterprise. Even assuming that he was not privy to the lurid details, he should resign on moral grounds. Out of office, he may even be able to defend Tehelka and Tejpal and perhaps salvage some of the value of any investment he might have allegedly made. After all, no one disputes that he is a brilliant lawyer. Harassment in the workplace is not just about a man taking advantage of a woman out of sexual desire. It is about power being drilled by a superior over his woman subordinate.

If it’s true that TarunTejpal, NeenaTejpal and ShomaChoudhury made 17 crores out of just the 2013 edition of Thinkfest (not to mention their other lucrative ventures), then this resignation has no meaning. Her comments about the victim were not commendable. It was said that the content of the meeting should not be discussed outside. It almost seems that Tehelka was more like an intellectual fashion accessory for Tarun Tejpal, Neena Tejpal and Shoma Choudhury. She was under fire from various quarters, including the media fraternity, for the way she handled a junior colleague’s sexual harassment charge against Tejpal. According to Chaudhury, since the “devastating allegation’’ was first brought to her notice on November 18, she had taken serious actions in response to this complaint. Tejpal seems to be trapped in the same web which he used to weave for others. Ironically, unknowingly Shoma has pushed him in this trap. The victim forced Chaudhury to extract an unconditional apology from Tejpal, which in court of law is admission of guilt. Without this letter and in absence of CCTV footage, the victim’s and Tejpal’s word are equally admissible in court. Now, the prosecution has a watertight case against him. It’s not the “allegations in media” Shoma, it’s in the letter written by the victim to you and also obvious to most people who noticed your cover-up attempts. There is no ‘malicious’ campaign – it’s what the victim felt and wrote to you, understandably so. Unless, women shrug off their affiliations and begin to think as only women, crimes like sexual harassment will continue to take place.

In this entire rape saga, one question is still remains unanswered, why Tejpal blamed BJP for conspiring against him and why Congress is still silence over the entire saga? Congress means to say that the rape is ok if the rapist is TarunTejpal or TarunTejpal wants to say that the girl who is been raped is stalled by BJP in his office who is also his daughter’s sister? Why so much goof up?

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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