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“Crucial CCTV evidence destroyed; IO committed several omissions”: Why Goa Court acquitted Tarun Tejpal of rape charges

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The Investigating Officer (IO) who probed the rape case against former Tehelka Editor, Tarun Tejpal committed several omissions and therefore the prosecution did not produce crucial evidence including CCTV footage, the Goa court, which acquitted Tejpal, said in its judgment.

Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi had, on May 21, acquitted Tejpal of sexual abuse charges alleged by a female colleague.

However, the judgment copy became available only on May 25.

The Sessions Judge in her verdict, reasoned that the deposition of the prosecutrix showed improvement and material contradictions and also had omissions and alter of versions which didn’t inspire confidence.

The Court opined that there have been glaring contradictions within the statements made by the prosecturix and therefore the IO had not questioned the prosecutrix about it.

The Court also noted that there have been discrepancies within the evidence submitted by the prosecution, which the defence alleged was deliberate.

It found that crucial evidence concerning CCTV footage was missing and wasn’t produced before the Court by the IO;

The statements of certain witnesses wasn’t recorded despite willingness of that witness to depose;

Email exchanged between the prosecution and therefore the defence witnesses was located within the Tehelka server but the emails weren’t procured by the IO during investigation.

On the CCTV footage particularly, the Court noted that the IO gave directions to other investigating officers to download CCTV footage only of the bottom floor and second floor and not of the primary floor so on deliberately destroy all traces of CCTV footage of the primary floor.

“The IO viewed vital CCTV footage of the guest lifts on the primary floor and knowing that the said CCTV footage shows the accused and prosecutrix exiting the lift during the relevant two minutes on the primary floor which an equivalent would exonerate the accused and despite the very fact that the DVR containing the CCTV footage should are attached by the IO at the earliest to preserve the crucial footage, deliberately delayed the seizure of the DVR and within the meanwhile destroyed the CCTV footage of ground floor , thereby destroying clear proof of the accused’s defence,” the Court said.

Referring to the elemental right of the accused, the Court observed that the IO appeared to have committed several omissions while conducting the investigation.

The court observed that on the particular alleged crime, the IO did not ask basic inquiries to the prosecutrix.

The Court also noted the following:

No empirical data to point out how a button on the lift panel can keep the doors closed when the lift is stationary between floors;

No verification on how the buttons on the lift panel might be pressed to facilitate commission of any crime;

No report from the corporate which made the lift to seek out out the functioning of the lift;

No interrogation of the prosecutrix on “what the accused did on the lift panel together with his hands during the alleged incident” and the way he pressed the lift buttons.

The IO had also not asked the essential question on where the prosecutrix was standing within the lift, the Court further noted.

The Court concluded that the prosecution had did not discharge the burden of proving guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and, therefore, acquitted Tejpal.

Tejpal was directed to furnish personal bond and surety of Rs. 20,000 effective for six months to seem before the upper court as and when notice for appeal against the judgment is filed.

Meanwhile, the State of Goa on Tuesday challenged the order acquitting Tejpal before Goa Bench of Bombay high cohttps://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/tarun-tejpal-panaji-sessions-court-acquittal-orderurt.

Tejpal was accused under charges of rape, assault and wrongful confinement of his former female colleague within the year 2013.

Source: https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/tarun-tejpal-panaji-sessions-court-acquittal-order

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