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"No Charges": Delhi Court Discharges Congress MP Shashi Tharoor In Sunanda Pushkar Death Case

Nupur Thapliyal
18 Aug 2021 5:42 AM GMT
No Charges: Delhi Court Discharges Congress MP Shashi Tharoor In Sunanda Pushkar Death Case
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A Delhi Court on Wednesday discharged Congress MP Dr Shashi Tharoor in Sunanda Pushkar death case.Special Judge Geetanjali Goel pronounced the order in presence of Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa appearing on behalf of Tharoor, Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava and Dr. Tharoor himself."The accused is discharged," said the Court while asking them to file a bond under CrPC.The...

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A Delhi Court on Wednesday discharged Congress MP Dr Shashi Tharoor in Sunanda Pushkar death case.

Special Judge Geetanjali Goel pronounced the order in presence of Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa appearing on behalf of Tharoor, Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava and Dr. Tharoor himself.

"The accused is discharged," said the Court while asking them to file a bond under CrPC.

The prosecution had 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.

Tharoor, who was also present on virtual conferencing while the order was being pronounced, thanked the Court for discharging him of all offences and said "It had been seven and half years and it was a torture. I'm so grateful."

The development came after the Court had reserved the orders on April 12 after hearing in detail, Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa appearing on behalf of Tharoor whereas Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava appeared on behalf of the State.

Pushkar had been found dead in January 2014 at a hotel in New Delhi. In 2015, and an FIR had been filed in this regard. In May 2018, Dr. Tharoor was charged with abetment to suicide and marital cruelty under Sections 306 and 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

Submissions made by Shashi Tharoor

The main thrust of Mr. Pahwa's arguments rested on the primary contention that no case under the relevant provisions of IPC could be made out in the matter.

Mr. Pahwa had begun his submissions by arguing that the prosecution wanted to invoke sec.498A of IPC along with sec. 113A of Indian Evidence Act against Tharoor in order to prove the charge under sec. 306 of IPC, however, it was his case that they failed in proving that this was actually the case of suicide.

"The law on presumption is very clear. Even before sec. 113A is invoked, they have to establish the foundational facts of the case. But they feel by invoking sec. 306, charges can be framed. They did not prove whether it is a case of suicide or homicide. There is no question of sec. 306 here. It comes when at least suicide is established. In this case, it has been established that it is not a suicide. My case is much better than this," Pahwa had submitted.

Coming to the allegations on there being an extra marital affair of Tharoor, it was argued in the Court that there was in fact no affair or relationship with any lady.

Another major submission advanced by Mr. Pahwa rested on the argument that the prosecution, over the period of 4 years i.e. 2014 to 2017, failed to ascertain the cause of death of the deceased. 

It was also submitted that the doctors who conducted the preliminary post mortem report while suspecting that the case was of poisoning due to Alprazolam, went beyond their jurisdiction by taking cognizance of circumstantial evidences falling outside the autopsy room.

During the course of hearings, Mr. Pahwa had also cited the timeline of events dating back from 2014 to 2017 by relying on 3 AIIMS board reports and 4 chemical examination reports over these years which failed to suggest the actual cause of death. According to Mr. Pahwa, there was "no definite opinion on the cause of death" even after the examination and medical reports by different boards comprising of different doctors.

"If you cannot establish suicide, then there can be no sec. 306 case. First you have to establish there has been a suicide. From 2014 to 2017, it has been 4 years. They have given opinion, its neither suicide nor homicide. Again a null in the investigation. Even when the report said there was no suicide, they registered a case under sec. 302. They don't say it's suicide. This is answer to your third category, accidental. This is accidental where there is no intention. Suicide cannot be without intent. I am not talking abetment at the moment. I am talking about suicide. For suicide there has to be intent. I am relying on medical documents relied by them. How does sec. 306 come into play?," Pahwa submitted.

Moreover, it was also submitted that none of the family members of the deceased, Sunanda Pushkar, had ever levelled any allegations against him. In doing so, he referred to the statements of such family members.

Submissions of the Prosecution

It was submitted by the prosecution 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 had submitted.

It was also submitted 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.

"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 had argued.

Also Read :  Sunanda Pushkar's Death Not Confirmed As Suicide; Even If Suicide Assumed, No Material To Show Abetment By Shashi Tharoor : Delhi Court In Discharge Order

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