Fast-track, female judge in Tejpal’s case

Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal, accused of sexually assaulting a journalist woman colleague, will be tried by a fast-track court and three witnesses in whom she had confided are expected to depose before a Goa magistrate on Friday.

In Delhi, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said, “Tejpal will be tried in a fast track court. We will follow the Supreme Court’s guidelines and have a female judge in this case.”

“I will see to it that justice is given to the girl. No one need be worried that Tejpal, just because of his earlier background, will be treated in a wrong way or a different way,” he said while responding to a question at a function.

A lawyer for Tejpal refused to comment on the police version that he has admitted to having committed the act while claiming it as “consensual”. Tehelka’s sting operation had led to the resignation of the then BJP president Bangaru Laxman who was caught on tape accepting money from undercover television reporters in connection with a purported defence deal. In Panaji, a senior police officer said the three colleagues of the woman journalist who had confided to them after the alleged incident, will record their statement before the magistrate.

Tehelka’s former Managing Editor Shoma Chowdhury has been summoned by the Goa police to appear before it on Saturday.

The police is likely to seek extension of Tejpal’s custody by another eight days when he is produced in court on Saturday. The six-day police custody given earlier ends on Friday evening.

“The investigation is heading in the right direction and we are interrogating Tejpal in detail…He (Tejpal) is cooperating,” a senior police officer said. The detailed statements of Tejpal are being recorded by a team led by Investigating Officer (IO) Sunita Sawant under the supervision of Deputy Superintendent of Police Sammy Tavares.

Goa police questioned daughter of Tejpal  on Thursday. Crime branch officials said Tejpal’s elder daughter Tiya was questioned for over two hours at the crime branch office at Dona Paula near here.

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