Panaji, Nov. 28: Goa police today moved a court for a non-bailable arrest warrant against Tarun Tejpal after the “recused’ editor failed to appear before the crime branch that had called him to probe a sexual assault charge by his colleague.
Tejpal, whose request for extension of time till Saturday for appearance before the investigating officer was rejected today, has now told Goa police that he will appear before them tomorrow for investigations, his lawyer Sandeep Kapur said in Delhi in the evening.
A letter from Tejpal to the investigating officer said: “I have just been informed that last night, November 27, around 10.45pm, you had left the summons with my wife…. asking me to appear at CID crime branch office at Dona Paula, Panjim, Goa on November 28 at 3pm for investigation.
“Since I am not a resident of Goa, I require a little time to appear before you. I request you to kindly allow me to present myself for investigation on Saturday afternoon, that is, the day after.
“I hope that is okay. I assure you of my complete and full cooperation.”
Later, when it was apparent that Goa police have rejected his request, Tejpal sent another fax: “We have just been given to understand that our plea for extension till Saturday has been disallowed, as per the news reported on the TV channels. Accordingly, please note that I shall be reporting for investigation to you tomorrow itself and as always assure you of my full cooperation.”
On a day of dramatic developments when earlier reports spoke of Tejpal producing himself before the Goa police by the 3pm deadline, he changed strategy and sought extension of time.
In Delhi High Court, Tejpal sought to withdraw his petition seeking anticipatory bail, saying he would move the appropriate court for appropriate remedy.
The dice was loaded against the founding editor of the magazine when two hours after the 3pm deadline passed and he failed to appear before the police, DIG O.P. Mishra said the officer had not accepted his request for extension “in view of the seriousness of the crime and is further proceeding in this case as per law empowered”.
Asked whether securing a non-bailable warrant was an option before the police, he said: “These are logical steps that we are required to follow. I cannot divulge to you each and every step of investigation.”
When pressed further whether arrest was being thought of, he said: “There should be no doubt that the next logical steps is that. The investigating officer is proceeding as per logical and legal protocol.”
Police sources said the crime branch moved the sessions court for issue of a non-bailable warrant with which Tejpal could be arrested. The court is expected to give its order tomorrow morning.
Under attack for attempted cover-up, Shoma Chaudhury, who quit as managing editor of Tehelka, has apologised before the National Commission for Women for “lapses” in handling the case.
After recording the statement of Chaudhury, the NCW said it would question the young journalist’s three colleagues in whom she had confided about the alleged sexual offence.
NCW member in-charge of Goa Shamina Shafiq said the Commission will seek all documents from Goa police relating to the sexual assault case against Tejpal.
She said Chaudhury apologised for failing to put in place a complaints committee under the Visakha guidelines. “Chaudhury has apologised for not having an anti-sexual harassment committee in the organisation. She also apologised for various lapses in handling the case,” Shafiq said.