Second SC judge recuses from Tejpal’s plea for in-camera hearing

A second Supreme Court judge on Monday recused himself from hearing the plea by Tehelka magazines’ former editor Tarun Tejpal against the Bombay High Court, which declined to entertain his application for in-camera hearing of the appeal filed by Goa government against his acquittal in sexual assault case.

Justice U.U. Lalit recused from hearing Tejpal’s plea. On January 21, Justice L Nageswara Rao recused from hearing the plea as he had appeared for Goa government, as a lawyer, in 2015. “Please list this before some other court,” he said.

Tejpal moved the top court on December 4, last year, challenging the dismissal of his application by the high court. He contended that every party has a right to place forth their case in the best possible manner. The plea argued that it would not be fair, if lawyers have to curtail their submissions against the backdrop that some publication may publish something, without exercising due care.

Citing a recent order by the High Court which passed directions for in-camera hearings in cases under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, Tejpal sought an in-camera proceeding in his matter too.

In May, last year, the trial court acquitted Tejpal of all charges levelled against him, including wrongful confinement, assault with intent to outrage modesty, sexual harassment, and rape against his female colleague. The Goa government filed an appeal challenging his acquittal and Tejpal moved the high court with an application seeking in-camera hearing of the matter.

The appeal contended that trial court order was influenced by extraneous and inadmissible material and by testimonies and graphic details of the past sexual history of the victim, which is prohibited by law.

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