Tejpal at la Fureur de lire 2007, Geneva, Switzerland
|Known for||Founder of Tehelka|
|Criminal charge(s)||Sexual assault|
|Criminal status||On Bail|
Tarun Tejpal (born 15 March 1963) is an Indian journalist, publisher, novelist and former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine. In November 2013, he stepped down as editor for six months after a female colleague accused him of sexual assault. He was arrested on 30 November 2013 and is currently on bail since 1 July 2014.
Tejpal's father was in the Indian Army, as a result he grew up in many parts of country. He graduated in economics from Panjab University in Chandigarh. Tejpal married Geetan Batra in 1985; they have two daughters, Tiya and Cara.
In 1980s he began his career with The Indian Express and later moved to New Delhi to join a now defunct magazine called "India 2000". In 1984, he joined India Today magazine, then The Financial Express in 1994 and later became the founding editor of India's second largest newsmagazine publication, Outlook. Meanwhile, he founded a publishing company, "India Ink", which published Arundhati Roy's Booker Prize winning novel The God of Small Things in 1998.
In February 2000, Tarun Tejpal set up India's first journalistic website, Tehelka. Tejpal in several media interviews declared the primary impulse of Tehelka would be editorial and not commercial, and it would aim to bring back the aggressive public interest journalism of the 1980s which had been misplaced in the fashion, food and cinema excitements of the 1990s. "Tehelka.com" did its first sting operation on India-South Africa cricket match fixing in 2000. A book about the exposé, Fallen Heroes, was published soon after. The Tehelka portal soon came to be known for its sting investigations, mainly for Operation West End (defence deal bribes). In 2004, "Tehelka.com" made a switch from online portal to print media when it was relaunched as Tehelka national weekly newspaper in tabloid format, which became a weekly magazine in January 2007. Tehelka's landmark stories include the Gujarat killings, Dr Binayak Sen, police encounters in the north-east, coal and 2G scams, the Ishrat Jahan and Tulsi Prajapati murders, the organising of riots by rump groups, an exposé on Zaheera Sheikh (witness of the Best Bakery case); as well as its persuasive reportage on the oppressed and disadvantaged sections of India - Dalits, tribals, poor and other minorities, victims of buccaneering development. Tehelka's reporters and writers won every journalistic award - including three years of the Chameli Devi for the best national woman journalist of the year and two IPI (International Press Institute) awards for the best journalism of the year as well as the Sanskriti Journalism Award and South Asia Laadli Media & Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity.
Tejpal's debut novel The Alchemy of Desire (2006), won Le Prix Mille Pages. A foiled assassination bid on Tejpal in 2001, and the arrest of five contract killers became the seed of Tejpal's second literary novel, the critically acclaimed "The Story of my Assassins" (2010) on which web series Paatal Lok on Amazon Prime is based.The Valley of Masks (2011) was longlisted for Man Asian Literary Prize 2011.
There was controversy with allegations of conflict of interest related to the ownership of company that owned "Tehelka" as political and business houses held shares in the company. K. D. Singh, a Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member, owned a part of the holding company, so did "Anant Media Private Limited" which was majority owned by "Alchemist group" conglomerate under investigation by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office.
In November 2013, Tejpal was accused by a reporter of sexual assault during Think in Goa. He admitted "misconduct", and offered to take six months leave, as "penance", from Tehelka. The case is still in process. This received intense public attention and media scrutiny especially because Tejpal and his magazine had previously been involved in highlighting the issue of sexual violence in India, including in a special issue on the topic in February of the year. Police in the state of Goa, where the incident took place, filed a First Information Report (FIR) which listed charges, including rape, against him. A non-bailable warrant was issued against him by the Goa Police. Consequently, he was arrested by Goa police on 30 November 2013. On 1 July 2014, Supreme Court granted him bail and asked him to submit his passport to the court.
The trial began in September 2017, and has been lengthened by Tejpal's appeal to the Supreme Court that the charges be quashed. The court rejected his plea in August 2019, sent the trial back to the lower court, which it directed to complete in six months.