A Delhi Court on Saturday restrained prosecution department as well as Delhi Police from sharing the charge sheet and supporting documents in the Sunanda Pushkar death case with any third parties.
The interim order was passed by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Samar Vishal on a petition filed by Tharoor through senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa.
The Court opined that Congress MP Mr. Shashi Tharoor had a “reasonable apprehension” that “misreporting and spreading of false information will subvert the legal process and interfere with the due administration of justice.”
The Judge therefore ruled, “This would also be highly detrimental to the applicant’s rights such as “Right to Reputation”, “Right to Privacy” and “Right to receive a Fair Trial”. Thus, if the applicant is continued to be held out as guilty in the public eyes, it would go against the very cardinal principle of criminal law that a person is innocent until he is proven guilty.
Therefore, it is highly imperative that prosecution, as well as Delhi police, be directed that the charge sheet as well as any document on record in the present matter, including charge sheet and its supporting documents, shall not be shared/ disclosed/ supplied to any third party.”
Ms. Pushkar was found dead in a suite in Leela Hotel in South Delhi on January, 17, 2017. The Delhi Police had then filed a charge-sheet in May this year, naming Mr. Tharoor as an accused. It had cited an email sent by Ms. Pushkar to her husband, expressing her wish to die.
Thereafter, on June 5, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Samar Vishal had issued an order summoning Mr. Tharoor to appear before him on July 7. The ACMM had taken cognizance of the charge sheet and related documents submitted by the Special Investigation Team, and had concluded that there were sufficient grounds to proceed against him for abetment of suicide under Section 306 of IPC and committing cruelty under Section 498A of IPC.
However, Mr. Tharoor was granted anticipatory bail on Thursday, and regular bail on Saturday. The same day, he also approached the Court with an application alleging widespread dissemination of false information in the case. Agreeing with him, the ACMM observed,
“The right of fair trial, right of privacy and right to remain silent are some of the basic constitutional rights of an accused. In certain criminal trials, an uninformed and speculative pretrial publicity of the case presents unmanageable thread to these important rights…
…It seems imperative that in order to protect the privacy of the accused Dr. Shashi Tharoor in this case, the charge sheet and other documents related to the case be kept away from public domain at least till the trial is over.”
The application has now been posted for final order on 26 July, restraining the authorities from sharing any documents with outsiders as an interim measure.