A Goa court on Thursday formally framed charges against former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine Tarun Tejpal in a case relating to the alleged sexual assault of a female colleague inside a lift at Hotel Grand Hyatt on the night of November 7, 2013.
Tejpal has been charged for offences under Sections 354 (assaulting or using criminal force on a woman with an intent to outrage her modesty), 354-A (outraging modesty), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrong confinement), 376 (rape), 376(2) (f) (person in position of trust or authority over women, committing rape of such women) and 376(2) (k) (rape of a woman by a person being in position of control or dominance over the woman).
During the hearing that began in Mapusa at around 2.30 pm, Tarun Tejpal's lawyer pleaded before the court to defer framing of charges in view of his plea in this regard pending before the Bombay High Court.
However, the judge denied any relief to Tejpal saying that the HC had not ordered any stay on the framing of charges and that the charges were ready and there was no reason for the court to defer it.
The court handed over a copy of the charges held against him and posted the case for next hearing on November 21.
On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court had refused to stay the framing of charges against Tejpal, and issued a notice to the Goa government seeking its response to the senior journalist's plea.
The district court in Mapusa had on September 7 refused to drop the charges against Tejpal.
Tejpal, the founder editor of Tehelka magazine, had moved the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court against the district court's order.
Justice Prithviraj Chavan, while hearing his prayer on Tuesday, declined to stay the framing of charges by the trial court. Tejpal had sought a stay on framing of charges against him till the time the HC has decided his plea on dropping the charges.
Tejpal has contended there was a lack of evidence against him in the case.
Appearing for Tejpal, senior counsel Aman Lekhi and advocate Pramod Kumar contested the trial court's order in August to frame charges against him.
They contended that the statement recorded under sections 161 and 164 CrPC are not substantive evidence and at best can be used for "contradiction". They argued that it cannot be the sole basis for framing the charges.
Tejpal's counsel claimed materials available on record were also not considered by the trial court.
In its today's order, the high court said if the district court frames charges against Tejpal, the recording of evidence, which marks the beginning of the trial, should be deferred.
"In such circumstances, matter is kept for final hearing after Diwali vacation. The trial court, if frames the charges, shall defer the examination of the first witness till the disposal of this criminal revision application," the court said.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on November 1.
Tejpal, former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine, is facing charges under IPC sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (rape) and 354-B (criminal assault with intent to disrobe a woman).