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Rape accused Tarun Tejpal faces the law

Despite the high-profile legal team of Tehelka's founder-editor managing to evade a formal arrest till 10 am on Saturday, Tarun Tejpal, accused of raping a woman reporter, could not keep the police at bay any longer.

Tejpal was interrogated by Goa police for about three hours on Friday evening between 6.30 pm and 9.15 pm, which recorded his statement in the matter. Tejpal, however, had managed to dodge the joint team of Goa and Delhi police till the time he landed at Dambolim airport in Goa.

On a day of several twists and turns, the District and Sessions judge Anuja Prabhudesai's court in Panaji first issued warrants for Tejpal's arrest, following a combined team of Delhi and Goa police reaching his residence to arrest him, and not finding him there. Later, the court stayed his arrest till 2.30 pm, which allowed Tejpal to reach Indira Gandhi International Airport to board a service flight to Goa. He was accompanied by his wife Geetan Batra, family members and lawyers. However, on landing in Goa, Tejpal was taken into custody by Goa police and taken to court where his plea for anticipatory bail petition was being heard.

Tejpal faced protests and black flag demonstration by BJP's youth wing activists as he left the Dabolim airport amidst tight security.

According to agency reports from Panaji, during arguments on the bail application in the post-lunch session, Tejpal's lawyer Geeta Luthra contended that he was a man of high integrity and reputation and that the CCTV footage of the hotel will exonerate him. The complaint from the victim, who was seen behaving normal even after the alleged incident, came 10 days after the said episode, she argued. Luthra said Tejpal was a free man but would be joining the probe whenever the investigating officer calls him.

During the arguments, Luthra twice took the name of the victim to which the public prosecutor took strong exception. The judge sternly told the lawyer it was not right on her part to name the victim. 'You know the law is strict on it,' the judge said.

Luthra said none of the charges of rape, outraging modesty of a woman and custodial rape have been made out against him. She said strange procedures have been adopted. 'I fear that there is some political hand in it resulting in tainted investigation.' When the judge asked whether the allegations against him were politically motivated, the lawyer refused to say they were political.
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