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Goa police seeks custodial interrogation of Tejpal        

Panaji, Nov 30 (PTI) : Strongly opposing his anticipatory bail petition in the Sessions court, Goa Police sought custodial interrogation of Tarun Tejpal on Saturday saying “prima facie” a case of rape is established as the judge adjourned hearing till 4.30 pm.

Public Prosecutor (PP) Saresh Lotlikar argued that Tehelka editor Tejpal, who has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman colleague in a five star hotel here, should be in police custody so that he can be properly interrogated.

He said Tejpal has been changing his version and is now claiming that he has not been heard.

“The accused has been changing colours like a chameleon through different statements,” he told the District and Sessions Judge Anuja Prabhudesai.

Tejpal, who was present in the court on Saturday, was later heckled by a protester who hurled a black flag on him, but missed the target as he entered the car.        

Lotlikar said the CCTV footage of the hotel in Goa where the incident occurred early this month gives enough hints confirming the allegation of rape.

The public prosecutor also argued that Tejpal was not available for Goa Police and appeared only after getting interim relief from court yesterday.        

He alleged that Tejpal has in the past tried to influence the family of the complainant and referred to an FIR filed in Delhi in this regard. That the accused is interfering in the investigation is well corroborated by his past conduct, he said.

The PP noted that the victim has been consistent in her statements. At the end of prosecution's arguments, judge Prabhudesai adjourned the matter till 4.30 pm, when the order is expected.

As the hearing resumed this morning, Tejpal's lawyer Geeta Luthra said he was ready to stay in Goa till the time the investigating agency needed him. He was ready to surrender all documents including his passport, she said, telling the police his arrest was not necessary.        

She said he will also not visit Mumbai, where the victim is currently residing.

“There should not be any fear that he (Tejpal) will tamper with witnesses or evidence,” the defence lawyer said. Luthra also ruled out the possibility of Tejpal fleeing the country saying he has not fled before the FIR or after that.

“My client cannot tamper with the aggrieved girl as she will stand by her statement,” the lawyer said.

Wrapping up her arguments, Luthra said false allegation of rape can bring distress to the accused and cause equal damage to him as to the complainant.She said as the rape law has become more stringent, so it it all the more required for the accused to defend himself for which “his liberty may be preserved”.

The court had given the Tehelka editor interim protection till this morning against arrest in the case.

Ahead of hearing on his bail petition, Tejpal visited the Crime Branch office here and said he was cooperating in the investigation.

Police sources said Tejpal was not quizzed and stayed for 10 minutes.

“We have joined the investigation started by the Crime Branch on Friday. We will join today also,” Tejpal told reporters after coming out of the office.