[Breaking] Special Court discharges Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in Sunanda Pushkar Death Case

Though Delhi Police initially probed case as murder, it charged Tharoor under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 498A (cruelty by husband).
Shashi Tharoor, Sunanda Pushkar
Shashi Tharoor, Sunanda Pushkar

A Special Court in Delhi dealing with cases against legislators on Wednesday discharged Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in the death case of his wife Sunanda Pushkar

Special Judge Geetanjli Goel passed the verdict asking Tharoor to file bonds.

"It was an absolute torture for 7.5 years," Tharoor reacted after the Court pronounced its verdict.

Geetanjli Goel, Rouse Avenue Courts Delhi
Geetanjli Goel, Rouse Avenue Courts Delhi
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Pushkar was found dead on the evening of January 17, 2014. Though the Delhi Police initially investigated the same as a murder, with an FIR registered under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), it charged Tharoor under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 498A (cruelty by husband).

Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa, who sought Tharoor’s discharge in the case, had argued that the prosecution had not alleged any mental or physical torture against his client. The counsel relied on several Supreme Court judgments to substantiate his arguments, one of which was on the point that even having an extramarital affair was not good enough a ground to amount to cruelty under Section 498A IPC.

Pahwa was assisted by Advocates Syed Arham Masud and Gaurav Gupta.

It was also argued that numerous reports of the medical board comprising renowned doctors besides the forensic reports of various laboratories and the psychological autopsy report conducted by experts had ruled out the death as homicide or suicide.

According to the submissions, the same reports consider the death to be accidental. Pahwa argued that the police in four years after a painstaking investigation could not even find the cause of Pushkar’s death

 Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa
Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa

Senior Counsel Vikas Pahwa told Bar & Bench: "I am delighted to hear the pronouncement of discharge for Dr Shashi Tharoor. It was a long battle of seven years. Ultimately justice has prevailed. He had faith in the judicial system right from the beginning. I had always advised Dr Tharoor not to make any public statement as the matter was sub-judice in the court. The charges levelled by the police for abetment to suicide and cruelty were absurd and preposterous. Even the most essential ingredients of the offences were not present in this case. All the reports of various medical boards including Psychological Autopsy Reports exonerated Dr Shashi Tharoor from the charges of homicide or suicide. The chargesheet filed was without any basis. There was no complaint by anyone for harassment or abetment to suicide by any of the family members or friends of late Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor. I am happy that at last after seven years justice has prevailed and he has been honourably discharged from all the charges made by Delhi Police against him."

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Special Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava had contended that before her death, Pushkar sustained injuries on her body, which was reflected in the post mortem report. “When she was hospitalised she had high fever and canula was administered to her,” he had argued.

Pushkar's death, he said, was due to poisoning and 27 tablets of Alprax were found in her room, although it was not clear as to how many pills she had consumed.

According to the prosecution, Pushkar was a completely healthy person and the cause of her death was poisoning due to the consumption of the drug.

Pushkar was stated to have been subjected to mental cruelty by her husband on account of the several controversies surrounding his alleged extra-marital relationship.

Shrivastava had referred to a purported conversation between the couple to submit that Tharoor "mentally abused" Pushkar "through neglect".

As far as the framing of alternative charge under Section 302 IPC was concerned, Shrivastava stated that the medical experts had "not ruled out" the possibility of the drug being injected to Pushkar.

A magistrate court had on June 5, 2018, found “sufficient grounds” to proceed against Tharoor in the case and had taken cognisance of the charges under Sections 306 (abetment to suicide) and 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) against him.

Read timeline of the case here.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news