GEETA LUTHRASenior Advocate Geeta Luthra

North Goa:

Amid heated arguments on bail for Tarun Tejpal in the Goa court, his lawyer, Geeta Luthra, on 29 November 2013, named the young journalist the Tehelka founder is accused of raping.

An angry judge Smt. Anuja Prabhudessai, censured the lawyer and warned that it was “not a minor mistake.”

“It looks as if the victim is the accused. We won’t tolerate this. This is not done… are we trying to malign her?” the judge, Anuja Prabhudessai, asked.

She also did not accept the lawyer’s explanation that the Investigating Officer had written the name. “You ought not to have said it,” she said.

The lawyer apologised.

The law says that the identity of rape victims must not be disclosed. Its an offense under section 228A of the Indian Penal Code.

On 29 November, the judge seemed to discount defence lawyers’ allegations that the case against Mr Tejpal is a political conspiracy, and that the delay in filing the complaint by the young woman reporter suggests it’s inauthentic.

“I am concerned with the crime, not the political remarks that were made after. Did the young girl make the political remarks?” the judge asked Mr Tejpal’s lawyers.

In her concluding remarks before reserving the order following two hours of arguments, North Goa District and Sessions Judge Anuja Prabhudessai told a packed courtroom, which included Tarun Tejpal, his sister and wife, that anticipatory bail is granted only in “extraordinary cases”.

Lead defence lawyer Geeta Luthra offered several concessions to the prosecution like Tejpal’s willingness to stay in Goa till the police requires him to, surrendering his passport and fixed deposits, among others. “I have offered that I will stay in Goa until a chargesheet is filed. I can be in Bangalore. I can be wherever this court directs,” Luthra also said on Tejpal’s behalf.  The lawyer also assured that for the duration of the investigation, Tejpal would not visit Mumbai where the victim resides. She said that Tejpal does not have any criminal record and therefore should be considered for anticipatory bail.

Specially appointed public prosecutor Saresh Lotlikar, who argued during the latter half of the hearing, said that Tejpal was changing colours like a chameleon and that police custody is required to complete the Tejpal end of the probe and get the real story out of him.

“Custodial interrogation is a must,” Lotlikar said.

“Your contention that your (Tejpal’s) immaculate reputation will be damaged, may we tell you that it’s already gone for a toss, and mere detention under police custody won’t do any further damage,” the prosecution argued. Lotlikar also submitted the victim’s statement to the judge and said that CCTV footage secured by police from the hotel had “enough hints” to confirm allegations of rape made by the victim. Lotlikar also refuted claims made by the defence that the complainant had “vested interests” and therefore delayed informing her superiors about the two alleged sexual assaults by Tejpal in a Goa resort earlier this month. “The lady is known to accused and her father was a friend of the accused. Being the sole breadwinner, she had to make the decision of her life before writing the email,” Lotlikar argued, saying that the victim had told two-three colleagues about the assault.

Lotlikar also said that Tejpal’s associates had tried to intimidate the victim’s kin in Delhi and that a First Information Report (FIR) had already been filed in that regard. “That the accused is trying to interfere with investigation is proved in the case,” Lotlikar said. Lotlikar also accused Tejpal of insulting the victim by questioning her integrity, adding that she had been “violated by a person who was like a father figure”.

About Senior Advocate Ms. Geeta Luthra:
Geeta Luthra, Senior Advocate in Supreme Court, is in practice of law since 1980, practicing in the Supreme Court of India, High Courts of Delhi, Patna, Allahabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Ranchi, Nainital, Uttrakhand, Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana High Court. She was designated as Senior Advocate in May 2009.

Geeta has long experience in Land Acquisition Law and working for the Government Sector. In Banking Sector she deals with cases related to Recovery of Debts due to SARFAESI, ie Securitization Act. Her specializations are : Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, International and Commercial Arbitration with special emphasis on human rights and Domestic Arbitration, Matrimonial and Custody Law, Intellectual Property Matters, Copyright, Patent, Environmental Law, Service Law, Banking Law, Property Disputes, Public Interest Litigation, Private International Law.

She was Standing Counsel for the Union of India for 7 years i.e. w.e.f. 29.7.1998 to 2005; Senior Standing Counsel for the Land & Building Department of Govt. of NCT of Delhi w.e.f. 23.3.2001 to 2005 and Counsel for P.W.D. and several Government Corporations including APMC, ESIC and CSIR; Counsel for Government of NCT of Delhi w.e.f. 30.4.1992 till 2009; Special Counsel for Government of NCT of Delhi w.e.f. 21.4.1995 in Supreme Court in matters of national importance, clearing Yamuna River, removal/regulation of hazardous industries, solid waste management, setting up of sewage treatment plants, common effluent treatment plants; Counsel for the Deputy Commissioner, Land Acquisition, for South District of Delhi w.e.f. 12.11.1997; Senior Counsel for Ministry of Railways w.e.f. 2002 till 2004; Special Counsel for the Government of NCT of Delhi in the Hon’ble Supreme Court in M.C. Mehta case, Maily Yamuna Case among others .(Public Interest Litigation for Environmental Law); Counsel in several landmark land acquisition cases in the High Court and Hon’ble Supreme Court including Gurdip Singh Uban, 13-South Delhi Villages, Yamuna Channelization. (Land Acquisition) including various government organs.

Geeta has been President Lady Sri Ram College Alumni Association. She has been on the governing body of Gargi College, Delhi University, Delhi and Bhaskar Acharya College of Sciences, University of Delhi.

Geeta has attended several conferences where she has presented papers and delivered lectures. She attended a conference in CROWN Plaza, London and presented a paper on terrorism in the year 2009. She has addressed at a refresher course in Jamia Millia University, New Delhi for three years on various human rights issues. She delivered a Lecture on intellectual property rights including indigenise rights over (i) neem and wheat basmati, (ii) cyber law (iii) terrorism at Bharti Vidyapeeth University, Pune and Domestic Violence.

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