Issues with Tarun Tejpal case judgment

Synopsis:  Tarun Tejpal case judgment needs to be overturned. It will, otherwise, remain as a bad precedent that will impede the workplace safety of women.

  • Tarun Tejpal, the former Tehelka editor-in-chief was accused of sexually assaulting his female colleague.
  • Followingly he was arrested and released on bail by the Supreme Court.
  • Recently, an Additional Sessions Judge had acquitted Tarun Tejpal from charges of rape.
  • The judgment transforms the accused into the victim and the survivor into the accused. The judgment has been criticized on the following grounds.
    • The court had dismissed the rape charges based on unfounded rationality.
    • Further, this judgment will serve in history as an example of the worst kind of victim-blaming and shaming to benefit the accused.
What are the reasons for criticising the Tarun Tejpal case judgment?
  • Firstly, the judgment is criticized for its unprecedented interpretation in support of the accused.
    • One, the court denied accepting the victim as a sterling witness. It was stated that the survivor did not fit into the court’s preconceived ideas of a rape survivor’s behaviour.
    • This disregards the women’s struggles that forced changes in law, in case law, and in approaches to victims of rape.
    • Two, even some evidence against the accused were ignored. Such as the accused’s personal apology, the draft of an official apology, and the conversations recorded by the survivor with the senior woman officer negotiating on behalf of the accused.
    • The judgment holds that the apology and the statements made by the accused were not sent voluntarily. But that it was under pressure and intimidation by the survivor.
  • Secondly, violation of privacy. Section 53A in the Indian Evidence Act rules out reference to past sexual history. However, the survivor was subjected to answer even intimate details of her life and her friendships.
  • Thirdly, the judgment criminalizes the right of a survivor to approach activists and lawyers for their help. Senior members of the Bar such as Indira Jaisingh were accused of doctoring and also of adding to incidents in support of the victim.

Source: The Hindu

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