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India magazine editor remanded in custody over ‘sexual’ assault Tejpal did not apply for bail on Sunday

PANAJI, India, Dec 1, (Agencies): Indian news magazine editor Tarun Tejpal was remanded in custody on Sunday after appearing in court on allegations of sexually assaulting a colleague in a hotel in the holiday state of Goa. A court in Goa ordered Tejpal remain in custody to allow police time to question the 50-year-old editor, who faces a possible rape charge over the allegations that could see him in jail for 10 years. “The police had asked for 14 days’ remand but after hearing our arguments, the court gave them six days of custody,” Tejpal’s lawyer Sandip Kapoor told reporters outside the court in Panaji, the capital of Goa. Tejpal, the founder of top investigative magazine Tehelka, was arrested late Saturday after earlier flying into the state and pledging to cooperate with police over the allegations. The editor, whose magazine is responsible for some of India’s hardest-hitting undercover journalism, did not apply for bail on Sunday, after earlier being refused, and has denied the allegations.

The woman, who has quit the magazine since the scandal broke, has told police her former employer molested her twice in a hotel elevator during a magazine-sponsored event in the seaside holiday hotspot last month. Police have filed an initial case against Tejpal under sections of the criminal code including rape. A stronger law introduced after outrage over the fatal gang-rape of a student last year included a wider definition of rape, and Tejpal could be jailed for 10 years if charged and convicted, lawyers say. The fatal gang-rape of the student on a Delhi bus last December sparked sometimesviolent demonstrations and a long period of introspection in India about rising crime against women and gender inequality. With India’s media newly sensitised to sexual assault cases after a further string of widely publicised gang-rape cases this year, the case has been front-page news for more than a week. It has also cast a spotlight on abuse in the workplace.

Tehelka has reported forcefully on gender inequality in India, highlighting police and judicial insensitivity to rape victims as well as misogynistic attitudes in India. It has been accused of hypocrisy and trying to cover up a serious crime after staff were sent an email last month saying Tejpal was stepping down for six months for “misconduct”. The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said in a statement to media groups on Friday that she was fighting to preserve her “integrity”. During a pre-trial hearing on Saturday, Tejpal’s lawyer argued his client was a man of “global repute” and sending him to police custody without establishing the facts of the case would subject him to “humiliation and ignominy”. But district judge Anuja Prabhudesai ordered Tejpal should not be given bail because prima facie evidence indicated he had “misused his position, betrayed her trust and violated her body”. “The material on record prima facie reveals that the applicant by his acts, which he has termed as lighthearted banter, had subjected the victim to ignominy, humiliation, and disgrace,” the judge said in her order, of which AFP has a copy. On Monday, the accuser resigned and criticized the magazine. She said it over the years had defended women’s rights and spoken out harshly against the culture of blaming the victim. “Given the sequence of events since the 7th of November, it is not just Mr. Tejpal who has failed me as an employer — but Tehelka that has failed women, employees, journalists and feminists collectively,” she wrote in the resignation letter.

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