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HomeLawJustice L Nageswara Rao recuses from hearing Tarun Tejpal plea for in-camera...

Justice L Nageswara Rao recuses from hearing Tarun Tejpal plea for in-camera hearing

Tejpal has sought in-camera hearing of the case citing Section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as well as the recent order of Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay High Court giving directions for in-camera hearings in cases under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act.

Tejpal’s contention was that every party has a right to put forth their case in the best possible manner. It would be unfair if lawyers have to curtail their submissions in view of the fact that some publication will publish something without taking due care, the plea stated.

He added that Section 327 of the CrPC is no more just a statutory obligation, but has become a fundamental right.

On May 21 last year, a trial court had acquitted Tejpal of all charges levelled against him including wrongful confinement, assault or criminal force with intent to outrage modesty, sexual harassment and rape against his female colleague. The acquittal was challenged by the State of Goa before the High Court.

One of the several grounds raised in the appeal was that the 527-page judgment 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. The same was used for the purpose of censuring the prosecutrix’s character, and discrediting her evidence, the appeal stated.

Shortly after the State filed the appeal, Tejpal moved the High Court with an application seeking in-camera hearing of the matter.

In the 23-page order rejecting the plea for in-camera hearing, the High Court Bench had emphasised,

” … in proceedings such as these i.e. rape cases in general, it is expected that all parties conduct themselves with dignity, sobriety and some sensitivity that is required, particularly, whilst reading evidence pertaining to intimate details. This, we think is not too much to expect from the Advocates appearing for the respective parties. Maintaining decorum in the courtroom is not merely a superficial means of protecting the image of lawyers and judges – but it is absolutely essential to the administration of justice.”

Source: Barandbench

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