Tarun Tejpal
Tejpal at la Fureur de lire 2007, Geneva, Switzerland
Born (1963-03-15) 15 March 1963 (age 60)
Known forFounder of Tehelka

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. On 21 May 2021, a Goa trial court presided over by Justice Kshama Joshi acquitted him of all charges.[1]

Early life

Tejpal's father was in the Indian Army, as a result he grew up in many parts of the country. He graduated in economics from Punjab University in Chandigarh.[2][3] Tejpal married Geetan Batra in 1985;[4] they have two daughters, Tiya and Cara.


In the 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.

From 1994-1996, Tejpal hosted weekly literary show called 'Books and Ideas' on Doordarshan's cultural channel, DD3.[5] which featured a wide array of authors - historians, novelists, poets, scholars.

In 1995, Outlook magazine was established with Vinod Mehta as Editor-in-Chief and Tejpal as Managing Editor. [6]

Tejpal co-founded a publishing company, RST IndiaInk, which published Arundhati Roy's Booker Prize winning novel The God of Small Things in 1998.[2][7]

In 2000, 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.[8] A book about the exposé, Fallen Heroes,[9] was published soon after. The Tehelka portal soon came to be known for its sting investigations, mainly for Operation West End (defence deal bribes).[10][11] 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.[8] 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[12] and two IPI (International Press Institute) awards for the best journalism of the year as well as the Sanskriti Journalism Award,[13] Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, Ramnath Goenka Award for Northeast Reporting and multiple South Asia Laadli Media & Advertising Awards.[citation needed]

Tejpal spearheaded THiNK, an acclaimed 3-day festival of ideas featuring global frontline thinkers in science, tech, politics, economics and the arts, held in Goa for three years from 2011 to 2013.[14]

Literary works

Tejpal's debut novel The Alchemy of Desire (2006), won Le Prix Mille Pages for Best Foreign Literary Fiction. It was published in over 20 languages and went on to sell more than half-a-million copies. The book also gained substantial attention for the rare and powerful praise it garnered from Nobel laureate Sir V S Naipaul, who wrote “at last — a new and brilliantly original novel from India.” Khushwant Singh in his review wrote, “The Alchemy of Desire puts Tarun Tejpal in the front rank of Indian novelists. I am inclined to agree with Naipaul: Tejpal has turned out a masterpiece. It is a novel that must be read.’ [15] Writing of the book, Le Figaro said “This Indian masterpiece is like a voyage down the Ganges, long and infinitely pleasurable; the only thing that worries you is getting to the end too soon.”[15]

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[16][17] The Story of My Assassins (2010) on which the 2020 web series Paatal Lok on Amazon Prime is based.[18][19] The Valley of Masks (2011) was longlisted for Man Asian Literary Prize 2011.[20]

His latest, The Line of Mercy(2022) [21][22][23], is a satirical-philosophical novel about crime, punishment, and the lives of mofussil India. "Tracking the debris of broken lives and screwball dreams, frantic fantasies and desperate schemes, Mercy does what only a handful of books in every age do: reveal the immorality of man-made moralities."[24]



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.[8][4]

In November 2013, Tejpal was accused by a reporter of sexual assault during Think in Goa.[31] He admitted "misconduct", and offered to take six months leave, as "penance", from Tehelka.[32] 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,[33] including in a special issue on the topic in February of the year.[34] Police in the state of Goa, where the incident took place, filed a First Information Report (FIR) which listed charges, including rape, against him. Police also announced they had seized CCTV footage from the Grand Hyatt hotel, the site of the alleged incident. On 22 November 2013, the same day the presence of CCTV was announced by the prosecution, Tejpal issued a press release demanding that the CCTV footage seized by the police immediately be released to the public. Tejpal also denied all charges against him. A non-bailable warrant was issued against him by the Goa Police.[35] Consequently, he was arrested by Goa police on 30 November 2013.[36] On 1 July 2014, Supreme Court granted him bail and asked him to submit his passport to the court.[37]

The trial began in September 2017, then was temporarily deferred when Tejpal appealed to the Supreme Court that the charges be quashed. He also moved the Supreme Court to be given a copy of the CCTV footage, which the court directed the police to comply with. The court rejected his plea on quashing charges in August 2019, sent the trial back to the lower court, which it directed to complete in six months.[38] The Goa sessions court deferred the judgement to 19 May 2021.[39] On 21 May 2021, Tejpal was acquitted of all charges. The 527-page judgement substantially relied on CCTV footage of the ground floor and second floor of the Grand Hyatt hotel, the site of the alleged incident, to acquit the former editor. Justice Kshama Joshi also noted substantial investigative bias and lacunae by the Investigating Officer in the case. Highlighting the right to a fair trial guaranteed to an accused under Article 21 of the Constitution, the verdict listed over 40 aspects of investigative lacunae and failure by the investigating officer including the destruction of key evidence that would "conclusively corroborate the defense of the accused," page 433 of the verdict noted. "The IO has in some cases, such as the CCTV footage of the first floor of block 7 of the Grand Hyatt, entirely destroyed the evidence...", the verdict stated.[40]

See also


  1. ^ "Every twist and turn in Tarun Tejpal trial". The Times of India. 21 May 2021. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Eminents Authors: Tarun Tejpal".[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Mehul Srivastava; Nandini Lakshman. "India's 50 Most Powerful People 2009". Businessweek. Archived from the original on 20 April 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b Tehelka Scandal: All you wanted to know about Tarun Tejpal and his businesses, DNA, 24 Jun 2014.
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OZD8iUHIRk
  6. ^ https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/a-history-of-ioutlooki/295686
  7. ^ Ravi Shankar. "For once Tejpal's words failed him". Live Mint. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  8. ^ a b c Here's all you need to know about Tehelka's former founder-editor Tarun Tejpal, DNA, 5 July 2014.
  9. ^ Sharda Ugra (16 October 2000). "Book review: 'Fallen Heroes: The Story That Shook The Nation' by Tehelka.com". India Today. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Who's Who @ Tehelka". Tehelka website. Archived from the original on 2 September 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  11. ^ "Tarun Tejpal". Businessweek. 1 July 2001. Archived from the original on 2 July 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Tushita Mittal of Tehelka gets Chameli Devi Jain award". Business Standard India. Press Trust of India. 10 March 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Sanskriti Awards for 2011 conferred". Hindustan Times. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  14. ^ https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/think-fest-kicks-off-at-bambolim-today/articleshow/17055549.cms
  15. ^ a b "Pan Macmillan India". www.panmacmillan.co.in. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  16. ^ "Fiction Book Review: The Story of My Assassins by Tarun J. Tejpal. Melville (Random, dist.), $27.95 (544p) ISBN 978-1-61219-162-1". PublishersWeekly.com. September 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  17. ^ "The Story of My Assassins by Tarun J Tejpal – review". the Guardian. 23 November 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Paatal Lok | Anupama Chopra's Review | Amazon Prime Video | Film Companion - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  19. ^ a b "The Alchemy of Desire - Tarun J Tejpal". www.taruntejpal.com. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  20. ^ "About Tarun Tejpal". The Man Asian Literary Award. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  21. ^ https://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/4/21648/The-Line-of-Mercy---Man-Is-Wolf-To-Man
  22. ^ https://sundayguardianlive.com/news/line-mercy-message-listen-underdog
  23. ^ https://www.hindustantimes.com/books/review-the-line-of-mercy-by-tarun-tejpal-101654880700863.html
  24. ^ https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/leisure/story/20220620-the-line-of-mercy-tarun-tejpal-s-new-novel-reveals-the-immorality-of-man-made-moralities-1960707-2022-06-10
  25. ^ "Harper Collins". Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  26. ^ Amelia Gentleman (26 November 2006). "Stars of India". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  27. ^ "India's 50 Most Powerful People 2009". Business Week. April 2009. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013.
  28. ^ Jiby Kattakayam (13 January 2011). "Moily: solution to decriminalise defamation under consideration". The Hindu. NEW DELHI. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  29. ^ "GQ Men of the Year 2011 winners | Tarun Tejpal | MOTY 2011 | Indian authors". GQ India. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  30. ^ "The Valley of Masks". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  31. ^ "What The Elevator Outlook India Magazine". Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  32. ^ "Tehelka editor's six months time off 'penance' offer for assaulting woman". NewsComAu. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  33. ^ Ellen Barry (22 November 2013). "Editor in India, Known for Investigations into Corruption, Is Accused of Rape". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  34. ^ Tunku Varadarajan (25 November 2013). "The Fall of India's Conscience". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  35. ^ "Goa police file FIR against Tarun Tejpal for rape of colleague". Times of India. 23 November 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  36. ^ "Tehelka case: Denied bail, Tarun Tejpal arrested by Goa Police : South, News – India Today". Indiatoday.intoday.in. 30 November 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  37. ^ "Tarun Tejpal accused of rape, gets bail from SC". Patrika Group (in Hindi). Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  38. ^ "Tarun Tejpal trial: HC defers cross-examination of victim till February". New Indian Express. IANS. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  39. ^ "Tarun Tejpal verdict: Goa court to pronounce verdict in Tarun Tejpal case on May 19 | India News - Times of India". The Times of India. 12 May 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  40. ^ "Breaking: Journalist Tarun Tejpal Acquitted in 2003 Rape Case". 21 May 2021.