It’s better for the Tehelka chief to come clean
Finally, the law caught up with Tarun Tejpal, who has been remanded by a Goa court to police custody. The Tehelka boss had been dodging arrest ever since Goa Police filed a First Information Report a week ago, accusing him of sexual assault. Mr Tejpal had been using trick in the legal book to remain free. He first sought anticipatory bail before a Delhi court but withdrew the application for tactical reasons. He then failed to keep a rendezvous with Goa Police which had summoned him for questioning. After the police arrived in Delhi with a non-bailable warrant to take him, he went underground, only to surface later and assure that he would reach Goa and “cooperate fully” with the investigating authorities. On arrival in Goa, he moved a bail plea before a local court on the pretext that he was always available for interrogation. His efforts came to a naught when the court on Saturday rejected his petition. Mr Tejpal will now be grilled in custody by the police in a more effective manner than until now, when was a free bird. His arrest will satisfy those who have been clamouring for a fit measure to deal with the tainted Tehelka chief and arguing that the authorities had been more than lenient to him all this while. The victim, who has claimed that Mr Tejpal's family had been pressuring her, and that his conduct with her during the fateful days in Goa in the first week of November during the Think Fest event, amounts to rape under the new definitions of the law concerned, too will breathe a sigh of relief. Mr Tejpal's arrest was inevitable, and Goa Police did the right thing in not showing undue haste. The investigating authorities made sure they first had the statements of both the victim and her colleagues to whom she had confided in detail about the incident.
The State Government of the Bharatiya Janata Party was aware of the propaganda campaign that Mr Tejpal had launched about how he feared not getting a fair deal from the regime because his publication had in the past ‘exposed' several BJP leaders of wrongdoing. This could be one reason why Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had directed the police to follow procedures strictly as laid down by law and not succumb to popular pressure from either side. This also explains why Goa Police did not move to arrest Mr Tejpal immediately after an FIR was lodged against him; many experts believe the police would not have been in the wrong had it held him then.
The accused has legal options open before him and he can exercise that. Meanwhile, he must stop casting aspersions on the State Government, the police and, most importantly, the victim. None of his actions to question their credentials has helped his cause until now — and it will not in the coming days. As for the police, having got what it wanted, it must make the best use of the opportunity and get material out of Mr Tejpal that will fortify the prosecution's case. The real challenge before the investigating agency is to now build evidences that will stand in the court. After all, Goa Police cannot expect to have Mr Tejpal in custody for ever to interrogate. It already has loads of material on which it can build a strong case which would lead to a comprehensive charge-sheet. But the police needs to tie up the loose ends effectively.