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Sunanda Pushkar death case against Shashi Tharoor: A timeline

Following the virtual hearing in which Special Judge Geetanjali Goel pronounced the order, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor told the court that the period after his wife’s death had been “seven-and-a-half years of absolute torture”. 

‘Weathered dozens of unfounded accusations, media vilification patiently’: Shashi TharoorShashi Tharoor with Sunanda Pushkar at Parliament House in 2012. (File: Express Photo)

A Delhi court on Wednesday discharged Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who was booked under sections of subjecting a woman to cruelty and abetment to suicide in connection with the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.

Following the virtual hearing in which Special Judge Geetanjali Goel pronounced the order, Tharoor told the court that the period after his wife’s death had been “seven-and-a-half years of absolute torture”. 

Pushkar was found dead in her suite at Delhi’s Leela Hotel on January 17, 2014. An FIR was initially registered by the Delhi Police on January 1, 2015 against unknown persons on charges of murder. Tharoor was later booked under IPC sections 498-A (husband or his relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 306 (abetment to suicide).

Here is a detailed timeline of the Sunanda Pushkar Death Case

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January 16, 2014: Sunanda Pushkar and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar had a spat on Twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with Shashi Tharoor.

January 17, 2014: Sunanda Pushkar was found dead under mysterious circumstances in suite no 345 of Hotel Leela Palace in New Delhi. While police suspected suicide, the possibility of drug overdose was not ruled out since Pushkar was undergoing medical treatment.

January 19, 2014: The doctors who conducted postmortem on Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor at AIIMS said it appeared to be a case of “sudden, unnatural death”, and mentioned more than a dozen injury marks on Sunanda’s hands and an abrasion on her cheek, suggesting a “use of blunt force”, besides a “deep teeth bite” on the edge of her left palm. Although “nominal traces” of the anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam were found, there were “no findings suggestive of drug overdose”.


January 20, 2014: Pushkar’s doctors in Kerala, who had treated her days before her death, said that she had not been diagnosed with any life-threatening disease that could have caused her death.

January 21, 2014: The subdivisional magistrate (SDM), who was heading inquest proceedings as the marriage was less than seven years old, said that Sunanda died of poisoning. The SDM, in his report, had said Sunanda could have died in “just three ways, homicidal, suicidal and accidental” and police should investigate further to ascertain the reason of her death.

January 23, 2014: Investigators said prima facie Pushkar died of “hidden poisoning”. Traces of two medicines, Alprazolam and Excedrin, had been found in her body. While Alprazolam is an anti-depressant, Excedrin is a painkiller — a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. Viscera samples were preserved after the autopsy at AIIMS and sent to CFSL for further tests.


On the same day, the probe into Pushkar’s death is transferred to the Delhi Police Crime Branch. However, two days later, the case was transferred back to Delhi police.

July 2, 2014: An AIIMS doctor, Sudhir Gupta, who headed the panel that conducted Pushkar’s post-mortem claimed he was being pressurised to manipulate the autopsy report. Gupta filed an affidavit to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) alleging he was pressured to “cover up the matter” and give a “tailor-made report”.

Gupta, in his report, said Pushkar had 15 injury marks on her body, most of which did not contribute to death. But there were two injury marks — an injection mark and some bite marks. The report also said that there was presence of excess amount of alprazolam drug in her stomach.

September 30, 2014: AIIMS doctors submit viscera report to Delhi Police.

October 10, 2014: A fresh forensic report on the case was submitted by AIIMS to Delhi Police on September 30, which the police called “inconclusive”.

November 9, 2014: Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy indicated that he may file a PIL demanding a court-monitored probe into the mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar.


January 6, 2015: Then Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi said Pushkar did not commit suicide but was murdered. Delhi Police registered a murder case against unknown people in the case.

February 2015: Pushkar’s viscera samples are sent to the FBI lab in Washington for examination and identification of poison that killed her.


November 10, 2015: Delhi Police receive Pushkar’s viscera report from the FBI. Report says radiation in Pushkar’s viscera samples was within permissible levels and did not cause her death.

November, 2015: Delhi police ask journalist Nalini Singh, who was one of the last persons to speak to Pushkar, to help with investigation. Pushkar had reportedly asked Singh to help her retrieve BBM messages between her husband and the Tarar.


February, 2016: A Special Investifation Team of Delhi Police questioned Shashi Tharoor. The Congress leader reiterated that Pushkar died due to drug overdose.

March 2016: Mehr Tarar comes to Delhi, meets a senior officer and denies any knowledge about Pushkar’s murder.

July 6, 2017: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy moved the Delhi high court seeking a court-monitored probe by a CBI-led Special Investigation Team into the death of Pushkar. Swamy alleged that “inordinate delay” has been caused in the investigation “which is a blot on the justice system”.

October 26, 2017: Delhi High Court dismissed Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking a court-monitored SIT probe, terming his PIL as a “textbook example of a political interest litigation”.

January 29, 2018: Subramanian Swamy moved Supreme Court seeking a SIT probe and alleged that it took nearly one year for the Delhi Police to lodge FIR in the case and the post-mortem report said that Pushkar had died an unnatural death. However, the SC asked him to satisfy on the aspect of maintainability of his plea. In February, the apex court sought the response of the Delhi Police on the plea.

April 20, 2018: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) told the Supreme Court that a draft final report had been prepared after conducting “thorough professional and scientific investigations” in the case and it would be filed in the concerned trial court after being vetted.

May 15, 2018: Delhi Police charged Congress MP Shashi Tharoor with abetting the suicide of his wife Sunanda Pushkar, who was found dead in a Delhi hotel in January 2014. In a 3,000-page charge sheet, police also accused Tharoor of subjecting Pushkar to cruelty and sought to summon him to court.

June 5, 2018: Delhi court takes cognisance of charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police, summons Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor on July 7.

February 4, 2019: The case is committed by the Magistrate court to the Sessions Court for trial.

May 24, 2019: Court junks Swamy’s plea to bring on record the Delhi Police report that alleged evidence tampering. 

July 18, 2019: Following a plea by Tharoor alleging that the case was being misreported, a special CBI court directed the prosecution to only share the charge sheet and documents pertaining to the case with medical and legal experts and not with any other third party or stranger. 

March 17, 2021: Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa seeks discharge of Tharoor from the case. He argues that there is still no conclusive cause of death. 

April 12, 2021: Court reserves order on framing of charges against Tharoor. 

July 2, 2021: Special court posts order on framing of charges against Tharoor on July 27 

July 27, 2021:  Verdict deferred once again. This time until August 18. 

August 18, 2021: Delhi court discharges Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in the case. 

First published on: 18-08-2021 at 12:01 IST
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