On August 18, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor got discharged by a Sessions Court in Delhi in connection to the case of his late wife Sunanda Pushkar’s suspicious death. He was accused of marital cruelty (Section 498A) and abetment of suicide (Section 306) by the Police in its chargesheet. Special Judge Geetanjali Goel pronounced the order via virtual hearing. Shashi Tharoor was also present during the hearing.
Timeline of events of Sunanda Pushkar case
In January 2014, Kerala Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a Hotel room. As per the post mortem report, there were drugs in her system. During the initial investigation, it was suggested that she could have been murdered. However, in the final chargesheet, it was mentioned that she had committed suicide.
A case was registered by the Delhi Police under Sections 302 of IPC in the case. In July 2017, The Delhi court ordered to de-seal suite number 345 of Hotel Leela, where Sunanda was found dead. In October 2017, The Delhi Police informed the court that they have de-sealed the suite and handed over its possession to the Hotel.
The 3000-page chargesheet was filed in the case in May 2018. The case was transferred to the special court earmarked to deal with the cases where MPs and MLAs are involved. In June 2018, the court took cognisance of abetment of suicide and cruelty charges as there was “sufficient grounds” to proceed. In July 2018, summons was issued against Tharoor. Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared on behalf of Tharoor for his anticipatory bail plea. Three days later, Tharoor appeared before the court following summons and was granted regular bail.
The magistrate noted, “He has already been admitted on anticipatory bail by learned Session Court vide order dated July 5, 2018. In compliance with the order of the learned Session Court, the accused furnished bail bonds. The bail bonds are accepted.”
The hearing in the case began in February 2019. A plea was submitted by Rajya Sabha MP Subramaniam Swamy seeking Delhi Police Vigilance Report on the alleged evidence tampering. The court rejected the plea and said Swamy did not have locus-standi in the case.
During the hearing of the case, the prosecution led by Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Kumar Shrivastava said that though the cause of death was mentioned as poisoning, there were 15 ante mortem injuries that were anywhere between 12 hours to 4 days old.
Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa representing Tharoor, rebutted the claims and argued, “there are rather reports which say it was neither homicide nor suicide. A psychological autopsy was conducted. They wanted to know the mental status of the victim. But till date, they are not clear whether she committed suicide or it was a homicide”.
In July 2019, Tharoor requested the court to pass orders not to share documents with any third party or stranger. In March 2021, Pahwa sought discharge of Tharoor as there was no conclusive cause of death found after seven years. In April 2021, the court reserved orders on framing charges against Tharoor.
In a statement shared on social media, the Thiruvananthapuram MP has thanked judge Gitanjali Goel for the verdict of discharge and has stated that a nightmare has come to an end.