A day after his arrest, Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal, accused of sexually assaulting a junior colleague in the lift of a Goa hotel on November 7-8, was sent to police custody for six days on Sunday. Following the court’s order, Tejpal was taken to the Crime Branch office in Dona Paula where he was interrogated through the day.
Judicial Magistrate Shama Joshi, who passed the order, did not allow anyone, apart from defence lawyers, the investigation team from Dona Paula Crime Branch and public prosecutor Francis Tavera, inside the courtroom.
Tejpal, wearing the same set of clothes that he wore at the time of his arrest, was brought to court amid heavy security at 11:42 am. The arguments went on for an hour, with public prosecutor Francis Tavera seeking 14 days remand.
During the anticipatory bail hearing on Saturday, special public prosecutor Saresh Lotlikar had indicated that they would seek 14 days’ custody as it is the most “elucidate interrogation”. Tavera argued that since the accused’s version must be recorded and confirmed, he needs to be in custody till the time the investigating agency has completed its investigation.
Outside the court, Tejpal’s counsel Geeta Luthra said they were satisfied with the order.
Sandeep Kapoor, the advocate who represented Tejpal, said, “We counter-argued that the agency has recovered everything they have to. Besides they sealed the office and he has been cooperating. He has made himself available to them on his own. We put forward everything that happened in the last two days. The judge was convinced and said six days is enough.” Kapoor said Tejpal would meet his lawyers for a few minutes during interrogation everyday, as allowed by Principal Judge Anuj Prabhudesai.
The investigating team is expected to take Tejpal to the hotel where the incident is alleged to have occurred, to confirm and reconstruct the sequence of events. Under the criminal procedure code, the mapping of the crime scene along with reconstruction of the incident, will be done in the presence of two panch witnesses.
Investigating officer Sunita Sawant, who attended the court proceedings, will have to build a case based on the three statements given by the alleged victim, and also bring on record Tejpal’s version. Tejpal’s apology emailed to the alleged victim is being treated as his first version.