Breaking the Code of Silence
| Case Code: BECG151
Case Length: 11 Pages
Pub Date: 2018
Teaching Note: Available
| Price: Rs.400
Themes: Ethics, Giving Voice to Values, Sexual Harassment
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts
Tejpal & Tehelka - Truly Sensational
In 2000, Tejpal co-founded Tehelka as an investigative news portal tehelka.com. After its launch, Tehelka broke new ground with its first sting operation called 'Operation Fallen Heroes', which exposed match fixing and betting in Indian cricket. In 2001, Tehelka was again in the spot light with 'Operation West End', wherein some of its journalists posed as arms dealers and exposed senior army officials from the Ministry of Defence and bureaucrats from the then-ruling coalition government accepting bribes in a fake arms deal. This scandal pushed the Indian government to the brink of a crisis and caused the resignations of several officials including the then Defense Minister and the presidents of two of the parties of the ruling coalition. According to media analysts, this exposé gave Tehelka and Tejpal a larger than life image.
The aftermath of the scandal saw the Indian government launching an inquiry as they questioned the methods adopted by Tehelka while making this exposé. It claimed that Tehelka's allegations were based on misleading references and touched-up pictures. Some reports alleged that Tehelka had resorted to unethical means such as using its women staff as prostitutes to lure army officials in the sting operation. It was also reported that as a backlash to the news portal's unethical style of reporting, the Indian government subjected Tehelka to tax raids and judicial investigations and filed cases against it. Tehelka was forced to lay off all but four of its 120 staff. The magazine’s main financial backer and the reporters who carried out the sting were jailed. The website was virtually defunct and was forced to shut down in 2003. By then, Tejpal was deeply in debt, and was forced to sell the office furniture and borrow money from friends....
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