Former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal's plea to the Bombay High Court for in-camera hearing of ongoing appeal proceedings in connection with a 2013 rape case, was rejected by the court on Wednesday, November 24. In an order, Justices Revati Dere and MS Jawalkar said that the application filed by Tejpal's counsel Amit Desai had been rejected "for reasons that we will be recording separately in writing".
Tejpal had sought relief from the High Court under Section 327(ii) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that enquiry and trial in a rape case under sections 376, 376A, 376B, 376C or 376D of the Indian Penal Code shall be conducted in-camera. The Goa government earlier this year appealed against Tejpal's acquittal by a trial court in the rape case filed by his junior colleague, who had accused the former editor of allegedly raping her twice in a five star resort in Goa in 2013.
Urging that the case be held in-camera, Tejpal's lawyer Desai said the appeal filed by the Goa government could be construed as an 'enquiry' and therefore fell within the ambit of section 327 of the CrPC. "Because section 327 is intended to protect the reputation of the complainant and the accused. Reputation is a fundamental right and no longer (just) a statutory obligation," Desai told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday.
Solicitor General Of India Tushar Mehta who is representing the state government however argued that the plea for in-camera hearing was not covered under the same CrPC section. "The appeal is neither an inquiry nor a trial. After the judgement is passed, the trial ends. Section 327 is limited to an inquiry and a trial," Mehta said. The HC has scheduled the appeal case for hearing on December 6, even as Tejpal sought time to appeal against the HC order on Wednesday.