New Delhi: More than seven years after businesswoman Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a luxury hotel here, a Delhi court on Wednesday cleared her husband and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor of all charges in the case.
Tharoor, who was present when Special Judge Geetanjali Goel pronounced the order in a virtual hearing, thanked the judge and said it had been absolute torture for last seven-and-a-half years .
The detailed order in the high-profile case — which had grabbed national headlines and led to furious debate across various circles, political and others — is awaited.
Pushkar, a prominent face in Delhi circles, was found dead in a suite of a luxury hotel on the night of January 17, 2014. The couple had been staying in the hotel as Tharoor’s official bungalow was being renovated at the time.
Tharoor, who was charged under IPC sections related to cruelty and abetment to suicide but was not arrested,
later in the day said in a statement posted on Twitter that his faith in the judiciary stands vindicated.
“This brings a significant conclusion to the long nightmare which had enveloped me after the tragic passing of my late wife Sunanda,” the author and politician said as his party came out in strong support of him and attacked the BJP and sections of the media for its slander campaign.
“I have weathered dozens of unfounded accusations and media vilification patiently, sustained by my faith in the Indian judiciary, which today stands vindicated,” the 65-year-old Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram added.
In our justice system, the process is all too often the punishment, Tharoor noted.
“Nonetheless, the fact that justice has been done, at last, will allow all of us in the family to mourn Sunanda in peace,” he said.
While police had sought the framing of various charges against Tharoor during the course of the arguments, his lawyer had told the court that the investigation conducted by the SIT had completely exonerated his client of all the charges against him.
Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa said there was no evidence to prove the offence against Tharoor.
After the order was pronounced, Pahwa told reporters that the charges levelled by the police for abetment to suicide and cruelty were absurd and preposterous.
Even the most essential ingredients of the offences were not present in this case, he said.
All the reports of various medical boards including Psychological Autopsy Reports exonerated Tharoor from the charges of homicide or suicide, he said, adding that the charge sheet was filed without any basis.
Pahwa had earlier told the court that Pushkar’s family and friends had maintained she couldn’t have committed suicide, and there could not be an abetment charge.
The maximum punishment for the offence is 10 years of imprisonment.
The Congress strongly backed its leader after the court discharged him.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “The truth always wins.The constant abuse, innuendos and slander of our colleague Shashi Tharoor by BJP and its crony TV anchors comes to naught.
“Will the PM now apologise for his intemperate remarks? Will the same TV anchors do a debate and apologise today?” he asked on Twitter.
Tharoor’s party colleague Jairam Ramesh also spoke out in his support.
“For seven years my friend and colleague Shashi Tharoor was harassed and subjected to vilification, abuse and mental torture.”
“Today, he stands vindicated and the MoSha duo along with their hatchet men stand totally exposed. Jai Ho for the judiciary. All is not lost yet,” he said in a tweet.
Advocate Gaurav Gupta, also representing Tharoor, pointed out that there was no complaint by anyone for harassment or abetment to suicide by any of Pushkar’s family members or friends.
Tharoor had been charged under Indian Penal Code’s Sections 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) as well as Section 306 (abetment to suicide).
He was granted anticipatory bail in the matter by a sessions court on July 5, 2018.
Following that order, a magisterial court converted the anticipatory bail into regular bail after he appeared before it on July 7 following the summons issued by the metropolitan magistrate in the matter.