Tarun Tejpal, one of the most daring and respected investigative journalists of India, is currently the central character in an alleged sexual harassment case, a controversy that may well end his career. The recent news in this high-profile case is that the Goa Sessions Court has rejected his anticipatory bail plea and has ordered him to be detained in police custody for 14 days, in order to carry out further investigation.
The Sessions Judge Anuja Prabhudesai, after a delay of three hours, rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by Tejpal’s lawyer. According to the order, Tejpal will be allowed to eat home cooked food and wear his clothes while he is under investigative custody of the crimes branch. The order also gave permission to his lawyer to meet him in his cell for a brief period of time everyday.
It came as a shock when an email graphically depicting the rape attempt by Tejpal was leaked to the media by the victim. According to the victim, Tejpal assaulted her in an elevator in a hotel in Goa. There is public anger fueling this controversy because of the role played by Shoma Choudhry, a senior editor at the Telekha magazine, who tried to hush up the whole matter, terming it as an internal affair of the magazine.
For the past couple of months, India has been in the world headlines because of the rising incidence of rape cases in the country. This case is of special interest to the public because a senior member of the media is involved. Not only that, but the person involved is famous for unearthing stories of murder, extortion and rape by carrying out sting operations, which the Telekha magazine is famous for, not only in India, but all over the world.
Tejpal attained fame by founding Tehelka magazine, one of the top sources of credible news coming out of India. The anti-establishment stance of Tejpal, as he is solely responsible for making many government scandals public, has finally landed him into trouble. It is held by some quarters in the Indian society that Tejpal is being dragged into this sordid affair only because he carried out many sting operations, unveiling the corruption scandals involving some of the most powerful politicians in the country.
On the other end of the spectrum, are people who view Tejpal as the villain, someone who is as corrupt himself as those he has exposed in his career as an investigative journalist. The present case and his role in the whole affair lend credence to their argument.
Whatever the truth about the present sexual harassment case against him is, it was expected that after all the scandals he had unearthed over the years and the large number of political figures with a lot of political clout he has annoyed, they would one day get him in trouble; and they surely have, by implicating him in the present alleged rape case of a colleague. The way the things are proceeding, there seems to be no early end in sight as far as the Tarun Tejpal controversy is concerned.
Editorial by Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada