Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar at Rouse Avenue Court has dismissed Shashi Tharoor's plea seeking a copy of tweets posted by Sunanda Pushkar moments before her death.
The court rejected his plea by stating that section 91 of Code of Criminal Procedure cannot be used to insist the court to direct the Prosecution to place the documents which are already in public domain.
The court said the accused will be allowed to place these documents at the appropriate stage of the trial. It was observed that: 'The Court will not venture into this exercise of procuring document for the accused which may possibly contain his defence.'
In the proceedings before Special CBI Judge, Tharoor's counsel Vikas Pahwa had argued that no evidence or reports have been put on record to prove the actual cause of Sunanda Pushkar's death.
Pahwa further submitted that the investigation started in 2014, and till date, Prosecution has not presented the actual cause of Sunanda Pushkar's death.
He also pointed out that, both the SIT report and the report of the New Board of Health Ministry, had concluded that the cause of death is neither suicidal or homicidal.
Vikas Pahwa also informed the court that since no report has been able to ascertain the actual cause of death of Pushkar, the police have conducted secondary methods such as 'psychological autopsy'.
He went on to explain psychological autopsy as a valuable research conducted on competed suicide. It's done on complete information of the victim received from multiple informants and records to ascertain what was the mental condition of the victim of her death.
It was then argued that even the psychological autopsy report concludes that the cause of death can be neither suicidal or homicidal.
Mr Pahwa also informed the court that the night before her death, Sunanda Pushkar tweeted a joint statement which suggests that the couple 'had no issues with their marriage'.
It was also argued that despite having custody of everything, from phone to computer or the deceased, the police has peculiarly not put these tweets on record. To seek the same, an application was earlier moved under section 91 of Criminal Procedure Code. Mr Pahwa said:
'It is clear from both the CFSL Report as well as the chargesheet, that the prosecution do have the access to Twitter data of the deceased. They had collected the said data from the FSL which was retrieved from Pushkar's mobile phones, as seized by the police. Their chargesheet shows that they've relied on the tweet posted on 15/1/14. How did they get that tweet if they don't have the Twitter data?'
Arguing for the need to present the digital evidence before the court, Mr Pahwa cited cases such as Navjot Sandhu and Ajmal Kasab to show the importance of producing the digital evidence. He also said:
'Pushkar was very active on Twitter. She used to tweet almost every hour! These are relevant documents which cannot be hidden from the court'.
Pahwa also pointed out that it is evident in the Prosecutor's documents that they have analysed the social media accounts if the deceased. Therefore, how can they now say that they don't have a copy of the deceased's tweets? He added:
'Prosecution doesn't want to show the tweets because it goes against the narrative they've framed in the chargesheet'
Countering the same, Public Prosecutor argued that the said application under section 91 of CrPC is not maintainable at the stage of framing of charges. Further, it was also mentioned that the prosecution does not have the Twitter data of Sunanda Pushkar.
Prosecutor also argued that section 91 doesn't confer why right on the accused to ask for a document. Rather, it gives discretionary power to the judge to call for any document of sterling quality which has been deliberately withheld by the Prosecutor.
It was further argued by the Prosecutor that Tharoor has shown no such document which is deliberately been withheld by the Prosecutor. The application filed by them is ambiguous about the kind of documents not supplied to them. He further added:
'They had all the documents for so long. Why didn't they move this application earlier? Section 91 has been invoked by them to waste time and delay the trial'.
Countering the point raised by Pahwa regarding the data received from the FSL, the Prosecutor submitted that whatever data they received from the FSL was given in 3 DVDs which have been provided to the court.
Sunanda Pushkar died on January 17, 2014. As per the case of the prosecution, she died of poisoning due to the consumption of Alprazolam.
In the last hearing, Delhi Police pressed charges against Tharoor under sections 498A, 306 or alternatively 302 of Indian Penal Code. Currently, Shashi Tharoor is out on bail.
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