The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court commented that the trial court's verdict in the Tarun Tejpal case is like a manual for how rape victims should behave. The high court's quip came after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the judge brazenly shamed the victim and elaborated his point with references from the verdict.
The high court was hearing the state's appeal against Tejpal's acquittal in a 2013 case where he was accused of raping and sexually assaulting his former female colleague. A North Goa court on May 21 had acquitted Tejpal of all charges on the grounds that the investigation was shoddy, and that the victim did not exhibit "normative" behaviour akin to a sexual assault victim.
The court noted that the 527-page verdict did not state the prosecution's case against Tejpal and issued notice calling for the record of trial proceedings.
Trial court judge brazenly shamed the victim: Goa to HC
Coming down heavily on the judgment, which pointed fingers at the character of the victim, Mehta said it put the victim on trial and not the alleged accused. "This judgment and the approach show a complete lack of sensitivity and knowledge on this subject. The law has evolved," he added.
The appeal further noted that the verdict has ignored settled jurisprudence where a victim's sexual history is discussed and used against her. Mehta cited Sections 53A and 146 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which makes a victim's sexual history inadmissible and impermissible to ask questions about the same when issues regarding consent are involved.
Lastly, Mehta said that the verdict could prove to be a deterent in any future sexual assault victim cases where a victim seeking possible counsel before filing a complaint becoming a move against them, as in the Tejpal case.
Citing the lack of urgency in the matter, the high court posted the matter for after three weeks.