Under attack for attempted cover up, Shoma Chaudhury, who quit as managing editor of Tehelka on Thursday, has apologised before the National Commission for Women for "lapses" in handling the case of alleged sexual assault on a woman journalist by editor of the magazine Tarun Tejpal.
After recording a statement of Chaudhury, the NCW said it will question the three colleagues of the young journalist with whom she had confided about the alleged sexual offence.
NCW member in-charge of Goa Shamina Shafiq said the commission will seek all documents from the Goa police relating to the sexual assault case against Tejpal. She said Chaudhury apologised for failing to put in place a complaints committee under the Visakha guidelines during deposition at the National Commission for Women, which recorded her statement in the case.
"Chaudhury has apologised for not having an anti-sexual harassment committee in the organisation. She also apologised for various lapses in handling the case," NCW member in-charge of Goa Shamina Shafiq said.
She said the NCW has received a complaint from Chaudhury regarding her house being vandalised allegedly by some Bharatiya Janata Party workers following which police has been asked to file a first information report against the perpetrators.
Shafiq said Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi has been asked to provide police protection to Chaudhury. "The NCW asked the Delhi police to file FIR against those allegedly involved in vandalising Chaudhury's house," she said.
Chaudhury said she apologised for not acting in a correct "situational frame work". "The criticism that I did not act in a measured way or in a correct situational frame-work, I accept that and I have apologised for it. But I would also like to remind everybody that I had really a day and half to act on any of these before the media storm took over," she said.
Chaudhury said she "cooperated completely" with the NCW and told them "everything that they wanted to know."
"I think I have made procedural mistake but the fact that I have been constantly accused and questions have been raised about my integrity that I was trying to collude, cover up, hush up. I have repeatedly been saying look at the demonstrable facts, I got somebody to give an apology. I got the person to step down, all my emails were copied to colleagues and journalists, by no measure of any understanding that can be deemed as cover up or hush up," she said.
Asked about why she decided to resign, Chaudhury said she took the decision as she felt questions on her integrity would harm Tehelka.
"I think most work places are not really prepared, sensitised or trained to deal with instances like this. But I continue to say that the fact the questions are being raised about foundation of my integrity. It's very painful to me, it harms Tehelka's brand. That's why I have stepped down. I have not stepped down because my other colleagues have stepped down," she said.
"The nature of the media debate on me has been so shrill and I think that sometimes become a case in other situations as well where they pull actual impacts and make the situation so volatile that it becomes so difficult to tell the truth," she said.