A Delhi Court on Monday reserved orders for framing of charges in the Sunanda Pushkar death case against Congress MP Dr. Shashi Tharoor. The prosecution has pressed the charges of abetment to suicide and cruelty under sec. 306 and 498A of the Indian Penal Code and alternatively for murder under sec. 302.
Special Judge Geetanjali Goel reserved the orders for April 29 after hearing Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava and Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa appearing on behalf of the State and accused, Shashi Tharoor respectively.
During the course of hearing, two pertinent questions were posed by the Judge to the learned APP on the aspect of first, if there was any report specifically suggesting the effect of alprazolam with alcohol and second, how much quantity of alprazolam is essential for causing human death.
At this juncture, Atul Shrivastava replied to the Court such an effect depends on the position of health of a person at the time of consumption of the said medicines.
While submitting so, the APP also went ahead to argue that there were two groups of doctors who had considered the medical reports in the matter. One, which conducted the post mortem report and the other which had only seen the earlier reports.
At the outset, a pertinent observation fell from the Court stating that even when if one agrees that the cause of death in the case is poisoning, merely agreeing will not prove such a cause of death.
Furthermore, the APP also submitted that the accused person can only ask for discharge only if the evidence in the case is "absolutely insufficient" which, according to him, was not the case.
"Court will be well within its domain to discharge an accused in such a case. But I ask myself a question, is it a case where the evidence is absolutely insufficient? The people who were able to see the dead body concluded the cause of death with great reasons and literature annexed in the reports. The investigating officers are not magicians and every question cannot be expected to be answered by them which is why we have doctors. The doctors stated that there was oral route of poisoning. However, it was also found that injectable route is also there." APP submitted.
In view of this, the Judge asked the learned APP "I again ask, can the prosecution go only on the basis of suspicion? Something has to be established in the case. Will the accused through cross examination say that it was injected? Can the prosecution only proceed on "May, ifs and buts?"
To this, the APP replied that while there are enough medical records available in the case, a trial must be there to give a larger and a clear perspective to the case.
On the question of framing of charger under sec. 309 of IPC, the APP submitted that the police registers an FIR against a person in case he moves for a "Hunger Strike or Fast until death".
On being asked as to whether it was an accidental case according to the prosecution, the APP argued:
"You will have to infer it from the report. That is why I said it's a concrete report and a case of poisoning, Here all the reports have value. It's not like a judicial hierarchy where if a higher court overrules the judgment of a lower court, the opinion of the higher court will prevail. Here we have to consider all the reports."
"Such questions can be answered by the doctors during the examination at trial. There is no definite cause of death in the case. It was never said that it is a case of natural death but on this ground can we throw all this in the dustbin? Hon'ble Court has to take the inference from all evidences." APP argued.
Refuting the submissions, Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa argued that while the prosecution wishes to establish the case on the trial, nothing more which has been already stated in the medical reports of the doctors and the sec. 161 statements will come on the record of the Court. Pahwa argued thus:
"When the medical board did not given any specific answer, a letter dated 8th August 2017 was written stating that no definite cause of death was there. Your honour is looking for the same but they are not answering. When it was asked whether the death in this case is accidental, suicidal or homicidal, he said "sorry I can't tell you but I'll tell you in the course of trial. Its not my theory but it is the theory of the doctors."
"The answer is given by the doctors and will not change in the trial. They are not reasons of her mental state, but the conclusion states accidental opinion. From this he wants to form an opinion that it's a suicide. He can't replace an opinion with his own opinion. He is the IO. The whole nature of evidence will not change because of this. The ultimate state of mind can be reflected of what she said. Twitter handle of the deceased is on record, you may read her last tweet. It's in public domain. Its an electronic record which is not in my control. This is unbreachable in nature. Not even a single word to show that she was upset form me. Joint statement is also on record." Pahwa submitted at the outset.
The Court after hearing the submissions of both the sides, put the case for orders on framing of charges for April 29.
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