Tarun Tejpal’s six month sabbatical cannot be enough punishment for the harassment of a young colleague

Tarun Tejpal’s shocking molestation of a young colleague and his subsequent apology has raised questions about how seriously sexual harassment is taken in India. That this particular story involves the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of a leading investigative publication, ‘Tehelka’; which has often covered stories on the marginalised and oppressed makes it doubly ironic.

The Goa Police have since filed an FIR against Tarun Tejpal.

That Tarun Tejpal has declared his own punishment is against what is supposed to happen in such cases. According to a blog written by Siddharth Varadarajan, senior journalist and former Editor of The Hindu: “When these crimes happen at the workplace and involve a senior person abusing his authority to put a female worker under pressure, the company concerned also has an institutional legal responsibility to investigate and take action. When that workplace happens to be a magazine, newspaper or television station and the person charged with assault and harassment happens to be the editor, there is surely an additional burden that must be discharged: that of transparency, fair play and an unflinching commitment to ensuring justice for the victim.”
“By these yardsticks, the manner in which Tehelka has responded to the sexual assault that a young woman journalist has said the editor-in-chief, Tarun Tejpal subjected her on two separate occasions is simply astonishing.”

This event affects not only the credibility of Tehelka as a publication but will also cast a shadow on the ethics that the Indian media plays by.