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Charges, lock-up stay get longer for Tejpal

Panaji, Dec. 7: A Goa court today framed additional charges against Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal, accused of sexually molesting a colleague, and extended his police custody by four days.

Tejpal was produced in the court of judicial magistrate Shama Joshi a little after 2pm.

After over three hours of hearing, the judge said Tejpal could also be booked under Section 341 (wrongful restraint), Section 342 (wrongful confinement), and Sections 376(2)(f) and 376(C) — dealing with rape by a person in a position of trust or authority — of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013.

Tejpal has already been booked under Section 354A (outraging the modesty of a woman) and Section 376(2)(K), which deals with custodial rape, of the Indian Penal Code. The 50-year-old is accused of assaulting the colleague twice at a Goa hotel last month and was arrested a week ago.

“Dejected and worried, Tejpal has expressed dissatisfaction with his defence team in Goa and wants his Mumbai lawyer to come and plead in the (Goa) court for him,” said a member of Tejpal’s legal team.

He added: “Police had initially wanted 10 days’ custody during his remand on December 1 but the court granted six days’ custody. Now, with the four additional days of remand, we do not think they (the police) will seek his custody after December 10.”

Tejpal’s lawyers are hoping he will be sent to judicial custody after December 10.

“His family called up a top lawyer in Mumbai, who had flown down to Goa with Tejpal on November 29. But this lawyer has told them there is no point in his coming to Goa now,” the legal source said.

“He has promised to come after Tejpal is sent to judicial custody, and try for his bail before the Goa bench of Bombay High Court in Panaji.”

Tejpal, who had hoped to be taken into judicial custody today, “was nervous”, said Goa police sources.

“The only question he has been constantly asking is when he can get bail,” said his defence team member.

An accused remanded in police custody has to stay in a police station lock-up but is taken into judicial custody when the police remand is over. If the offence is bailable, he may get bail.

“Although rape and murder are non-bailable offences, the court can grant bail depending on the strength of the evidence against the accused,” said Mumbai-based lawyer Sandesh Dixit.

Lawyers say that in general, accused look forward to judicial custody, and especially so if they are people of some eminence.

“In such cases, judicial custody may be a relief because for security reasons, the accused is separated from the other undertrials and convicts,” the source in Tejpal’s defence team said.

“Sometimes, they are allowed some conveniences as well. Tejpal is hoping life will be better in judicial custody.”

The court had denied Tejpal’s request for a fan and bedding to be brought from his home while in police remand.

Today, the police recorded the statement of Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury before a magistrate.

Shoma, who resigned from Tehelka on November 28, had been summoned by Goa police and arrived last evening. She is staying with a friend, police sources said.

Three male colleagues of the alleged victim, who has since resigned from the magazine, also recorded their statements before a magistrate here yesterday. The complainant says she confided in them after the incident.