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Butalia refuses to head Tehelka complaints panel

November 26, 2013 12:15 IST

Publisher Urvashi Butalia has refused to head Tehelka's internal complaints committee set up to probe sexual assault allegations against its editor Tarun Tejpal, saying it was now not needed as the case was being investigated by police.

In a letter to Tehelka's Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury, Butalia, director of Zubaan Books publishing house, said she was recusing herself from heading the committee under the Vishakha guidelines.

She was appointed by Tehelka to head its internal probe panel.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Zubaan Books said, "Zubaan would like to clarify that our director Urvashi Butalia is not on the committee Tehelka was planning to set up in line with the Vishakha guidelines, nor on any other committee related to the Tejpal case. On Friday, November 22, Urvashi wrote to @ShomaChaudhury, saying any such committee that was planned was redundant now that due process under the law had begun."

Responding to the above statement, Tehalka said on a social networking site on Tuesday, "Since last Thursday, Tehelka has requested several people to be a part of the sexual harassment enquiry committee, including eminent people like Urvashi Butalia, Inakshi Ganguly, Sharmila Tagore, Justice Leela Seth, Prem Shankar Jha, Uma Chakravarti, Vrinda Grover, and several others.

"Tehelka has also written to the complainant journalist asking her to suggest some names for the committee, but she hasn't replied. However, despite all our efforts, there is a strong sense amongst lawyers and activists that, given that a criminal enquiry by Goa police was started on Thursday itself and a criminal case has now been filed, an enquiry committee would not have any legal standing.

"Hence, many of the people Tehelka has approached wish to recuse themselves from the committee. We are trying to persuade them to reconsider and remain committed to having such a committee to investigate this matter."

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