Former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal’s bail plea in a case of sexual assault was rejected by the Bombay High Court bench here Friday. Rejecting Tejpal’s bail plea, Justice Utkarsh Bakre said there was likelihood of the 50-year-old journalist fleeing from justice and tampering with the witnesses.
“There is evidence on record, in this regard of the applicant talking on mobile to somebody from Gurgaon and New Delhi. A mobile has been attached from the possession of the applicant,” Bakre said in his order. The possession of a mobile phone in prison premises, in violation of prison rules, made it “difficult to believe that the applicant would obey the conditions if he is released on bail by putting any conditions on him”, the judge noted.
The judge also brought on record Tejpal’s daughter’s (not named in the order) meeting with the victim’s mother in New Delhi, which the prosecution has called an attempt to influence the victim. “Fact remains that the applicant has not distanced himself from the daughter and further there is prima facie evidence to show that the applicant himself has been sending messages to the friends of the father of the victim,” the order reads.
Making light of one of Tejpal’s pleas to grant him bail so that he could attend to his ailing mother, Bakre said: “There is no dispute that there are other family members to look after the mother.” “Looking to the seriousness of the offence, the likelihood of the applicant fleeing from justice and tampering with the witnesses, I am not inclined to consider the request of the applicant for bail on this ground,” the judge said.
Tejpal has already spent over three months in police and judicial custody since his arrest Nov 30, after a nationwide police hunt. A junior woman colleague accused Tejpal of rape during ThinkFest, a high profile conference organised by the Tehelka founder in Goa which was attended by Hollywood star Robert de Niro.
The victim claimed that she was sexually assaulted twice Nov 7 and 8. Tejpal is presently lodged in the Sada sub jail located in Vasco, 35 km from here.