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Justice Has Been Done: Shashi Tharoor Post Verdict in Sunanda Pushkar Death Case

Shashi Tharoor had been accused of abetment to suicide and cruelty in connection with Sunanda Pushkar's death.

Updated
Politics
3 min read
Senior Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor.
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A Delhi Court on Wednesday, 18 August, discharged Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in connection with the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar in 2014, reported LiveLaw.

Tharoor had been charged under under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 498A (cruelty by husband towards wife) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) but had not been arrested in the case.

In a statement released on social media, Tharoor wrote that his family would finally mourn Pushkar in peace.

"This brings a significant conclusion to the long nightmare which had enveloped me after the tragic passing of my late wife Sunanda. I have weathered dozens of unfounded accusations and media vilification patiently, sustained my faith in the judiciary, which today stands vindicated," he wrote.

"It's been seven-and-a-half years of torture," Tharoor had said earlier, according to Bar & Bench.

On 27 July, the court adjourned for three weeks, the order on whether to put Tharoor on trial in the case.

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WHAT HAD HAPPENED?

Pushkar was found dead in a suite at a luxury hotel in the city on the night of 17 January 2014. Tharoor and Pushkar were staying at the hotel, as the former's official bungalow was being renovated at that time.

The initial FIR filed by the Delhi Police was against unnamed persons, and they only submitted the charge sheet on 14 May 2018, over four years after her death.

MP Subramanian Swamy had filed an application asking to be involved in the prosecution of Tharoor, alleging destruction of evidence.

HOW THE CASE UNFOLDED

On 5 June 2018, Delhi’s Patiala House Court summoned Tharoor after a 3,000-page charge sheet was filed by the Special investigation Team (SIT) naming the lawmaker as the only accused, alleging that he had subjected his wife to cruelty.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal scrutinised the charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police, and said there was sufficient ground for proceeding with a trial against Tharoor under these charges.

In a statement then, Tharoor had said, "I find the charges preposterous and baseless, the product of a malicious and vindictive campaign against myself."

However, when summoned on 7 July as an accused in the case, Tharoor was granted bail.

WHAT WERE THE CHARGES AGAINST THAROOR?

Tharoor had been charged under Sections 498A and 306 of the Indian Penal Code by Delhi Police.

The term ‘abetment’ covers instigation, conspiracy or aiding in some crime – in the context of suicide, it normally refers to instigation of the person who has taken their own life.

According to the Supreme Court, for a person to be convicted under this charge, they need to have a clear intention to instigate the suicide, and some action by them, which makes the deceased think they have no other option.

Meanwhile, Section 498A of the IPC covers cruelty committed against a woman by her husband or a relative of her husband. The provision is more widely known for punishing dowry harassment, but cruelty under this section also covers any:

“Willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman.”

This not only covers physical abuse, but can also cover mental cruelty. However, there must be some clear intent and some sort of specific action by the husband to cause the woman harm.

(With inputs from LiveLaw and Bar & Bench)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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