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Delhi HC notice to Shashi Tharoor on police appeal in Sunanda Pushkar death case


NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Thursday asked Congress MP Shashi Tharoor to respond to a plea by the city police challenging his discharge in an abetment to suicide case relating to the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar in 2014.

The court also issued a second notice to the lawmaker on an application for condonation of the delay by the police in filing the appeal against the August 2021 order to discharge Tharoor in the case. Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for Tharoor, opposed the police’s application, saying the appeal was filed 15 months instead of the stipulated 90 days of the trial court’s order. Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma told Pahwa that he could present his arguments on the delay on February 7, the next date of the hearing.

Justice Sharma, however, agreed to Pahwa’s request to restrict the two sides from sharing documents related to the case with any other party. Pahwa said the trial court had issued a similar order.

Sunanda Pushkar, 51, was found dead in a hotel room on January 17, 2014 following which the police charged her husband with abetment to suicide, among other charges. The couple was staying at the hotel because Tharoor’s official bungalow was being renovated.

The Delhi police registered the first FIR on January 1, 2015, against unidentified persons and filed a charge sheet against Shashi Tharoor in May 2018, charging him under sections 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In August 2021, the trial court discharged Shashi Tharoor, saying there was no material against the lawmaker to accuse him of the offences, much less any positive act to instigate or aid her in committing suicide. The judge also cited the opinion of the medical board which the court said, did not confirm that Pushkar’s death was a case of suicide.

“There is nothing, even prima facie, to suggest that there was any wilful conduct on the part of the accused (Tharoor) of such a nature as was likely to drive Pushkar to commit suicide or to cause injury or danger to life, limb or health,” the court said.

It said the charge sheet was filed with a hope that perhaps the court would find some material to proceed with the trial, but “criminal trials require evidence”. “No doubt a precious life was lost. But in the absence of specific allegations and sufficient material to make out the ingredients of the various offences and on the basis of which the court could, at this stage presume that the accused had committed the offence, the accused cannot be compelled to face the rigmaroles of a criminal trial”.




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