Tarun Tejpal, the founder-editor of Tehelka magazine, was acquitted of sexual assault charges by a court in Goa on Friday. The order was pronounced by Additional Sessions Court Judge Kshama Joshi.
He was accused of sexually assaulting a junior colleague in 2013 at a five-star resort in the state. The journalist was arrested in November 2013 and released on bail in July 2014, according to Bar and Bench.
A court began the trial against Tejpal in 2017. In the meantime, he moved to the Bombay High Court seeking to quash the case against him, saying that the charges were "fabricated".
Tejpal moved to the Supreme Court in 2019 after the high court dismissed his petition and ordered for the trial to continue in Goa.
The trial court charged the veteran journalist with charges of rape, sexual assault, and wrongful confinement by a trial court in 2017.
Tejpal thanks lawyers
Soon after the verdict, Tejpal said he was "falsely accused" of sexual assault.
"It is with profound respect that I thank this court for its rigorous, impartial, and fair trial and for its thorough examination of CCTV footage and other empirical material on record," said Tejpal's daughter Cara while reading a statement on the behalf of the journalist, according to NDTV.
He thanked his lawyers who represented him in the trial, including Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Pramod Dubey, Ankur Chawla, Aamir Khan, Amit Desai, Aman Lekhi, Sandeep Kapoor, Raian Karanjawala, and Shrikant Shivade.
Tejpal also paid tribute to lawyer Rajeev Gomes who succumbed to COVID-19 last week.
Verdict likely to be challenged
As per The Indian Express, the prosecution examined 71 witnesses and cross-examined five defence witnesses during the trial. The prosecution mounted its case based on the statement of the victim, statements of some of her colleagues, and e-mails and WhatsApp messages.
The allegations against Tejpal came out when a series of e-mails containing complaints by several women to her seniors and their responses were leaked.
The verdict of the Goa court is likely to be challenged by the state government in the higher court, says the report in The Indian Express.