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TejpalThe Delhi High Court Wednesday reserved its order on a plea for anticipatory bail by Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal who is battling charges of sexual assault. The court also declined to grant four weeks interim protection to Tejpal against arrest by the Goa Police. Justice Sunita Gupta reserved the order for Nov 29 after hearing counsel representing Tejpal and Goa Police. Tejpal is facing charges of sexually assaulting a junior colleague during a conference organised by the magazine in Goa this month. Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Goa Police, opposed Tejpal’s anticipatory bail plea, saying he had committed “very serious and heinous crime” of rape. “This (incident) occurred between the editor-in-chief who called himself founder of Tehelka magazine and a junior employee of his organisation. The position of dominance … is used here,” counsel said. Senior advocate K.T.S. Tusli, appearing for Tejpal, pleaded that police were acting at the behest of the Goa government, which is led by a political party against whose president the editor had once done a sting operation. The 2001 sting operation exposing corruption in defence deals led to the resignations of then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Bangaru Laxman and defence minister George Fernandes.

“Serving a political purpose is not the role of the police. Police is bound by duty. It’s complete abuse of power,” said the lawyer. He added that even if it was assumed that every allegation against Tejpal was correct, still this cannot be termed as rape. “Registration of FIR under section 376 (rape) of IPC is a complete abuse of power by police at the behest of political masters.” Tulsi said the vicim had had said in her complaint that Tejpal “attempted” sexual assault. “Attempt is a different matter. It reduces the sentence also.” He argued that Tejpal “voluntarily withdrew” from his post and it showed he had some “morality”. The accusations were aimed at humiliating him. Tulsi asked the court to grant Tejpal temporary protection from arrest till he approaches the Goa court. The counsel said that in the case of the alleged snooping case in Gujarat, a first information report was not registered even after two years. But in this case immediate action had been taken. A Tehelka journalist has accused Tejpal of sexually assaulting her twice at a five-star resort in Panaji this month. The alleged incident happened in the hotel lift. The victim Tuesday recorded her statement before the Goa Police in Mumbai and before a magistrate in Goa Wednesday. The Goa Police said Tejpal was also guilty of “influencing the victim’s family”. “It’s an open and shut case where the man admitted that it was drunken banter,” police counsel Rohtagi told the court. Rohtagi said the Delhi High Court had no jurisdiction to decide the matter as the incident happened in Goa, a FIR was registered there and the Goa Crime Branch was investigating the case.

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