The Delhi Police Monday 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 chargesheet, police also accused Tharoor of subjecting Pushkar to cruelty and sought to summon him to court.
The Delhi police Special Investigation Team (SIT) filed the chargesheet before Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh and said that there was no need to arrest Tharoor, the only accused in the case. “Since all possible and material evidence was collected and verified, it was not felt that anything will come further to arrest the accused,” said the chargesheet.
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The court said it needed time to go through the chargesheet and would decide the matter accordingly. “Put up for consideration (whether to admit the chargesheet or not. Also to decide on the summoning of Tharoor) on May 24,” the judge said.
Reacting to the development, Tharoor said on Twitter: “I have taken note of the filing of this preposterous chargesheet and intend to contest it vigorously. No one who knew Sunanda believes she would ever have committed suicide, let alone abetment on my part… If this is conclusion arrived at after 4-plus years of investigation, it does not speak well of the methods or motivations of the Delhi Police.”
He said, “In October (2017), the Law Officer made a statement in the Delhi High Court that they have not found anything against anyone and now in six months they say that I have abetted a suicide. Unbelievable!”
Pushkar was found dead in a five-star hotel room in Delhi on January 17, 2014. The chargesheet also dropped murder charges. Initially, an FIR was registered by the Delhi Police on January 1, 2015, against unknown persons on charges of murder. The chargesheet also alleged that the postmortem report points to around a dozen injury marks on Pushkar’s body. Tharoor’s personal staff Narain Singh has been arrayed as a key witness to the case.
The police, in its chargesheet, said Tharoor had not been arrested so far as he is a sitting Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram and had joined the investigation when required. “The deceased was subjected to mental and physical torture,” said additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Atul Kumar Srivastava in court. He was accompanied by the SIT team, who arrived in the jam-packed courtroom carrying the chargesheet in a steel trunk.
Srivastava told the court that Tharoor was charged under section 498A (husband or his relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 306 (abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code against Tharoor. “Unnatural death has taken place within seven years of the couple’s marriage,” Srivastava said.
“Death occurred in three years three months and fifteen days of their marriage. This was their (Tharoor and Pushkar) third marriage. The couple married on October 2, 2010.” While Section 498A carries a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment, a jail term up to 10 years is prescribed under Section 306.
The prosecutor said that for he has been charged under Section 498A as it relates to “wilful conduct of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman’.
While referring to Section 113A of the Indian Evidence Act, the prosecutor said that the court may presume that the husband abetted the suicide of his wife if she committed suicide within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage and that her husband had subjected her to cruelty.
Srivastava further urged the court that the Congress leader should be summoned as an accused in the case as there was sufficient material to establish that he abetted his wife to commit suicide. Supporting Tharoor, the Congress rejected the charges and claimed the chargesheet was a conspiracy to defame and malign him. Earlier in the day, Tharoor chaired a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs in the afternoon and later said that he was going to stay off from Twitter for a while because of too much “epicaricacy”.
At a Congress briefing Monday, Congress communications head Randeep Surjewala said the BJP “led by its top-notch leaders (had) conspired against Shashi Tharoor and accused him of murder. A media trial by a select group of media channels was also undertaken against Tharoor. Delhi Police which was an instrumentality of this conspiracy, which was being used as a puppet in this conspiracy to malign Tharoor”.