By LE Desk

Panaji, March 23: The District and Sessions Court at Mapusa in North Goa is expected to pronounce its judgment in the trial of former Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal, accused of raping a woman in 2013, on March 27.

Tejpal is facing trial in a November 2013 case in which the woman had accused him of sexually assaulting her inside a lift in a five-star hotel in Goa during an event. Tejpal, who was arrested on November 30, 2013, was later released on bail and had contested the allegations in court.

Tejpal faces charges under IPC Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 376 (2)(f) (person in position of authority over women, committing rape) and 376(2)(k) (rape by person in position of control).

Special public prosecutor Francisco Tavora confirmed that the case has been listed for judgment on March 27, The Indian Express reported.

Additional Sessions Judge Shama Joshi is expected to deliver the verdict. In the event that Tejpal is convicted, the court may hear the prosecution and defence arguments over the quantum of sentence.

In the trial held in-camera, the prosecution examined 71 witnesses and cross-examined five defence witnesses. The case of the prosecution mainly rested on the statement of the victim, some of her colleagues and electronic evidence including e-mails and WhatsApp messages.

In February 2014, the Goa Police Crime Branch filed a 2,846-page chargesheet against Tejpal that was divided into 12 volumes, and included the statements of 152 witnesses.

The examination-in-chief of the victim, the prosecution’s first witness, was held in court by the prosecution in March 2018. The trial recommenced in October 2019 after Tejpal moved the High Court of Bombay at Goa and then the Supreme Court for quashing of the charges against him, pleas that were turned down by both courts.

In October 2020, the Supreme Court had extended the time to complete the trial until March 30. Delays were also caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, during which some witnesses were also examined over video conferencing after September 2, 2020.

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