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Sunanda Pushkar death: Delhi Police moves Delhi HC, seeks revision of order discharging Shashi Tharoor

The Delhi HC issued notice on the Delhi Police application for condonation of delay in filing a revision plea 15 months after the trial court order. The matter was listed for hearing on February 7, 2023

File photo of Shashi Tharoor with his late wife Sunanda Pushkar. (Express Archive)

The Delhi Police has moved the Delhi High Court seeking revision of an order passed by a trial court last year discharging Congress MP Shashi Tharoor of all charges in the Sunanda Pushkar death case.

A single judge bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma on Thursday issued notice on the Delhi Police application for condonation of delay in filing a revision plea 15 months after the trial court order.

Appearing for Tharoor, senior advocate Vikas Pahwa objected to the 15-month delay in filing the review plea as the order of discharge was passed on August 18, 2021. Pahwa further said that a copy of the revision plea had not been served to his client. Objecting to the delay, Pahwa sought that the application for condonation of delay be argued first.

The high court thereafter issued notice to Tharoor, which was accepted by Pahwa, stating that it will first hear the application for condonation of delay.

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At this point, Pahwa submitted that various orders were passed in the course of the trial by the chief metropolitan magistrate, sessions judge as well as the Delhi High Court stating that documents of the case should not be shared with anyone else, other than the parties, protecting Tharoor from a “media trial”. “The case files should not be given to anyone else other than the parties involved in the matter”, Pahwa said.

To this, the high court questioned, “But how can this be done, these are public documents?” Pahwa then referred to Delhi High Court rules on this issue.

Considering Pahwa’s submission, the high court directed that the copy of the case files shall only be provided to the parties involved. The same was not objected to by Additional Standing Counsel Rupali Bandhopadhya, who appeared for the Delhi Police, and the matter was listed on February 7, 2023.

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Pushkar was found dead in a suite of a luxury hotel in Delhi on January 17, 2014. The Delhi Police initially registered an FIR against unknown persons on charges of murder, on January 1, 2015. Later, Tharoor was booked under sections 498A (husband or his relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 306 (abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

In August last year, Special Judge Geetanjali Goel passed an order discharging Tharoor in the case, stating that “in the absence of specific allegations and sufficient material”, the accused “cannot be compelled to face the rigmaroles of a criminal trial”.

“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,” Goel said.

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Referring to the report of the Psychological Autopsy Board — a board of independent doctors set up by the Ministry of Health at the request of the investigating agency — which had stated that the death was not homicide or suicide while in its second report, it stated that the deceased had “suicidal ideations but did not state that it was a suicide nor there is any other material to confirm the same”, the special judge said that as such, “none of the boards had confirmed that the death was a suicide”.

The trial court had noted that the “prosecution itself has taken the stance at one point that it was a homicidal death and at another that the death was a suicide”.

It said that “even if it is presumed that the deceased had suicidal ideations and she had committed suicide or caused grave injury or danger to life, limb or health as per the case of the prosecution”, there is nothing, even prima facie, to suggest that there was any “willful conduct on the part of the accused of such a nature as was likely to drive the deceased to commit suicide…”

The court also observed that there was “nothing whatsoever to even prima facie” show that an offence under the section of murder is attached in the case.

First published on: 01-12-2022 at 12:13 IST
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