Panaji, Feb 19: A Goa court here Wednesday allowed rape accused Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal to access CCTV footage, which he has claimed will prove his innocence.
District Judge Anuja Prabhudessai ordered the release of video evidence a day after Tejpal, in a statement, said that police were holding back the CCTV footage of a camera installed in Grand Hyatt hotel’s lobby outside the elevator, where the alleged sexual assault took place.
A court official said the footage which was presented by the police was in the process of being copied and would be handed over to Tejpal’s lawyers by Wednesday afternoon.
While police in their charge sheet have claimed that the CCTV footage shows a distraught victim stepping out of the elevator on Nov 7 and Nov 8, Tejpal also claims his best defence is embedded in the tapes.
Tejpal’s statement Tuesday evening said: “This entire case hinges on the 130 and 45 seconds (as per the charge sheet) of contested time which can be brought to light via the CCTV footage.”
“The Goa Police know their fabricated case will collapse the moment the footage is revealed and compared with the ‘testimony’ of the alleged victim, on the basis of which the Goa Police filed its FIR (First Information Report) under draconian provisions.”
Tejpal said the police had deprived him of the CCTV footage for over three months despite constant requests.
According to police, there was no CCTV camera in the elevator of the five-star hotel.
“In fact, receipt of the footage is what we have been impatiently waiting for since the last three months. This duplicity is in keeping with the sinister and motivated political vendetta that is being pursued,” he said.
He also claimed that the crime branch officials have told him that there was no case against him.
Tejpal said: “As it were, I viewed the relevant footage of both days whilst being ‘held’ in police custody and the footage clearly validates me.”
“The fact is most of the officers in the crime branch know there is no case, and have said as much to me. Even so, the IO has been pursuing an agenda spelt out for her by her political masters, totally violating the principle of police neutrality.”
Tejpal was Monday charge sheeted under Sections 354, 354-A (sexual harassment), 341 and 342 (wrongful restrain), 376 (rape), 376(2)(f) and 376 (2)(k) (takes advantage of his official position and commits rape in his custody).
His appeal for bail will be heard by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court March 4.
A junior colleague has accused Tejpal of alleged rape during ThinkFest, a high-profile conference organised by Tehelka founder in Goa. The victim has claimed that Tejpal sexually assaulted her twice on Nov 7 and 8.