Tarun Tejpal, the former Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka in the latest hearing of his plea at the Bombay High Court in Goa stated that his statement statements of apology days after the incident in 2013 were “sought on demand” and drafted by Shoma Chaudhury, his colleague at the time. This statement by Tejpal was made during a hearing of his plea that sought quashing of rape charges framed by a lower court against him. Aman Lekhi, a senior counsel who appeared on behalf of Tejpal on Tuesday said, “It was like a charter of demands… and he was just given a draft and asked to sign,” as quoted by Indian Express.
Earlier reports stated that the apology signed by Tejpal was treated as a confession statement by Goa police who were investigating the rape charges that were levelled on him by another former colleague during an event at the Grand Hyatt in Panaji in November 2013. Judgement on the former Tehelka Editor-in-Chief were reserved by the court on the day when heated arguments were exchanged between the prosecution and defence. While the defence argued for the “precious reputation of a family man wrongly facing charges of rape”, the public prosecutor sought to “respect the statement of a rape victim given under oath”.
Senior counsel Aman Lekhi, questioned the “quality of two apologies” that was sent by Tejpal to the victim within a gap of minutes. He said that they were “inconsistent with each other”. Lekhi argued, “She (Shoma) makes a charter of demands, which is contrary to what CCTV showed… How can there be a apology on demand?” While referring to Tejpal’s first apology, Lekhi claimed that Chaudhury had asked Tejpal to write an email “including points as suggested by her”.
A CCTV footage was produced by Tejpal’s side which showed the victim entering and exiting the hotel’s elevator on the night of November 7, 2013. This footage showed details after the alleged incident took place inside the lift, and the following day to claim that she did not show “any sign of distress or outrage”. This is the first time when a video clip was shown in the court hearing. In the earlier hearings at the lower court, image grabs of the footage were produced.