After spending nearly 170 days behind bars, senior journalist Tarun Tejpal walked out of a Goa prison on Monday, said his lawyers, after the Supreme Court granted him interim bail earlier in the day to perform the final rites of his mother. Tejpal's mother, Shakuntala, was suffering from brain tumour and passed away on Sunday in Goa.
Facing trial in a rape case, Tejpal has been lodged in Sada sub-jail in Goa's Vasco town since November 30 2013. The 50-year-old former editor of Tehelka magazine has been charged for allegedly raping, sexually harassing and outraging the modesty of a colleague during an event held at a hotel in Goa in November 2013. Tejpal has approached the apex court challenging the March 14 verdict of the Bombay High Court's Goa bench for rejecting his bail plea.
A vacation bench of justices BS Chauhan and AK Sikri, however, granted him interim bail for three weeks after Tejpal's lawyers, senior advocate UU Lalit and Pramod Kumar Dubey, sought from the apex court the release of their client to attend his mother's cremation. The 87-year-old Shakuntala had been staying in Tejpal's house in Moira, North Goa. "Tejpal will be released from jail subject to the satisfaction of the trial court in Goa," the bench said in its order.
In his bail plea, Tejpal had said that there were 152 prosecution witnesses who have to be cross-examined by the court, due to which the trial is likely to be prolonged. Tejpal has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including sections 354, 354-A (sexual harassment), 376 (rape), 376(2)(f) (being a person in a position of trust or authority towards the woman and rape), etc.