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Sunanda Pushkar death: 15 months after Shashi Tharoor’s discharge, Delhi police moves HC

New Delhi: More than 15 months after a Delhi court on August 18, 2021 discharged Shashi Tharoor in a case related to his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s death, the Delhi police moved Delhi High Court on Thursday against the Congress leader’s discharge and sought condonation of delay in filing the revision petition. Pushkar was found dead in a suite of a luxury hotel in the city on the night of January 17, 2014. The couple was staying in the hotel as the official bungalow of Tharoor was being renovated at that time. Tharoor was charged under Sections 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 306 of the Indian Penal Code by the Delhi Police, but was not arrested in the case. He was granted bail on July 5, 2018. The high court sought Tharoor’s response to the plea by the Delhi police and listed the matter for hearing on February 7, 2023.

After Tharoor’s counsel referred to the protracted delay, Justice D K Sharma issued a notice to the Congress leader and sought his reply to the police’s application for condonation of delay. “First we will decide the condonation of delay application,” the judge said. The high court also asked the counsel for police to supply a copy of its petition to Tharoor’s lawyer.

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The police, through additional standing counsel Rupali Bandhopadhya, filed the revision petition seeking setting aside of the trial court’s 2021 order and for direction to frame charges against Tharoor under section 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 306 (abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa and lawyer Gaurav Gupta, representing Tharoor, claimed the plea was not served to him and was “deliberately” sent to a wrong email id. Pahwa contended the police have filed the revision petition after a delay of over a year and, before issuing notice on the main plea, the court should hear him on the application for condonation of delay.

He said several orders were earlier passed that during the pendency of the case the record be not given to anybody except for the parties. “This media trial goes on. This affects right to fair trial,” he argued. As the counsel for police said she has no objection to this, the high court directed that the copies or documents related to the case shall not be supplied to any person who is not a party to the case in court. It listed the matter for further hearing on February 7, 2023. 

Though charged under IPC provisions related to cruelty and abetment to suicide, Tharoor was never arrested. The Congress leader’s counsel maintained there was no evidence against him in the case and that the post mortem and other medical reports established it was neither a case of suicide nor homicide.

(With PTI inputs)

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