Four years after his wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a hotel room, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has been named as an accused in the case by the Delhi Police.
In its chargesheet filed before Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh at the Patiala House Court, the Delhi Police said the case was suicide and not murder.
Shashi Tharoor has been charged under sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 498A (cruelty to wife) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Reacting to the charges, Shahsi Tharoor tweeted: “I have taken note of the filing of this preposterous charge sheet & intend to contest it vigorously. No one who knew Sunanda believes she would ever have committed suicide, let alone abetment on my part.”
“If this is conclusion arrived at after 4+ yrs of investigation, it does not speak well of the methods or motivations of the Delhi Police. In Oct 17, the Law Officer made a statement in the Delhi High Court that they have not found anything against anyone & now in 6 months they say that I have abetted a suicide. unbelievable!” he posted.
Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar go married on Aug 22, 2010.
Here is everything that you need to know about the Sunanda Pushkar death case:
January 16, 2014: Sunanda Pushkar had a virtual spat on Twitter with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over the latter’s alleged affair with Shashi Tharoor.
January 17, 2014: Sunanda Pushkar was found dead under mysterious circumstances in room no 345 of Hotel Leela Palace in New Delhi. Initially the police suspected suicide. However, they also did not rule out drug overdose as she was reportedly undergoing treatment for stomach tuberculosis and auto-immune disorder Lupus.
January 19, 2014: Sunanda Pushkar’s autopsy report at All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) concluded her death to be “sudden, unnatural”. She had injury marks on her hands and cheeks. Drug overdose was ruled out as the doctors found “nominal traces” of anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam.
January 20, 2014: Sunanda Pushkar’s doctors in Kerala said she did not have any life-threatening disease.
January 21, 2014: The subdivisional magistrate (SDM), who was heading inquest proceedings, said in his report that Sunanda Pushkar’s death is either homicidal, or suicidal, or accidental.
January 23, 2014: Investigators said prima facie Sunanda Pushkar died of “hidden poisoning” as traces of two medicines – Alprazolam (anti-depressant) and Excedrin ( painkiller) – were found in her body.
Her viscera samples were sent to Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) for further tests.
The same day, the case was transferred to the Delhi Police Crime Branch. However, after two days, the case was again transferred back to the Delhi Police.
July 2, 2014: AIIMS doctor Sudhir Gupta, who headed the autopsy panel, filed an affidavit to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) alleging he was being threatened and pressured to “cover up the matter” and file a “tailor-made report”.
September 30, 2014: The Delhi Police gets the viscera report.
October 10, 2014: The police calls the report “inconclusive”.
November 9, 2014: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy said he might file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding the court to monitor the probe.
January 6, 2015: Then Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi said Sunanda Pushkar was murdered. A murder case was registered against unknown people.
February 2015: Her viscera samples were sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) lab in Washington.
November 10, 2015: The Delhi Police gets the FBI report, which said radiation in Sunanda Pushkar’s viscera samples was within permissible levels and hence it did not lead to her death.
November, 2015: The Delhi Police sought help of journalist Nalini Singh, who was one of the last persons to speak to Sunanda Pushkar, in their investigation. Nalini Singh told the cops that Sunanda Pushkar had asked her to retrieve BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) messages between her husband Shashi Tharoor and Mehr Tarar.
February, 2016: A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Delhi Police interrogates Shashi Tharoor, who said his wife died of drug overdose.
March 2016: Mehr Tarar was called to Delhi for interrogation. She said she had no clue about Sunanda Pushkar’s death.
July 6, 2017: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy moved the Delhi High Court and demanded a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)-led SIT to investigate the case.
October 26, 2017: The Delhi High Court dismissed Subramanian Swamy’s plea.
January 29, 2018: Subramanian Swamy moved the Supreme Court seeking a SIT probe.
April 20, 2018: The SIT told the Supreme Court a draft final report had been prepared after “thorough professional and scientific investigations” in the case.
May 14, 2018: The Delhi Police filed its 3,000-page charge sheet in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmendra Singh under IPC Sections 306 (abetting the commission of suicide) and 498A (punishment for subjecting a married woman to cruelty).
The magistrate fixed May 23 as the date of taking cognisance of the charge sheet. Shashi Tharoor as been asked to be summoned to the court as an accused.
Pic credit: Video grab
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.