Mumbai, Feb. 19: Crucial CCTV footage in the Tehelka sexual assault case has been made available to accused Tarun Tejpal, the magazine’s founder-editor.
The CCTV footage from a five-star hotel in Goa was listed as primary evidence in the chargesheet submitted in court on Monday. Tejpal is accused of assaulting a journalist working under him in a lift at the hotel.
On Wednesday, the chief judicial magistrate in Panaji allowed Tejpal access to the complete duration of CCTV feeds of The Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, where the alleged crime took place on November 7 and 8, 2013.
But while Tejpal and his lawyers can access the entire footage for the period between November 7 and November 10, 2013, for the purpose of his defence, the footage cannot be made public.
In their appeal to the court, the defence described the footage as most relevant to the case and said it is “the most empirical piece of evidence pertaining to the instant matter as the same goes on to establish the innocence of the accused…it is not only imperative but also necessary for a just and fair adjudication of the instant case.”
Tejpal and his defence team have been claiming that CCTV footage from inside the lift on two consecutive nights will prove that the sexual act being labelled as “rape” was “consensual”.
Hotel sources have, however, told The Telegraph they did not have any CCTV cameras inside the lift — the surveillance cameras were fitted only in the lift lobbies.
Police say the same.
Wednesday’s court decision came a day after Tejpal issued a statement demanding that the CCTV footage submitted by the police as evidence to the court be made available to him.
On court orders, all the seized evidence of the investigation enlisted in the chargesheet and deposited in the court by the police on Monday was opened in the court premises under judicial supervision on Wednesday morning. Later, copies of the evidence were made available to the defence and the prosecution.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Tejpal had said: “If conclusive proof was needed of the political vendetta that has been unleashed against me, under the guise of a sexual molestation investigation, it has been emphatically provided today. In a blatant attempt at twisting and concealing the facts, the Goa police while filing a 3000-page highly spurious charge sheet, has not presented or handed over the most crucial piece of evidence in this case, the CCTV footage of the incident. In my first and only press note of November 22nd 2013 I had urged, ‘the police to obtain, examine and release the CCTV footage so that the accurate version of events stands clearly revealed’.”