Sunanda Pushkar case shifted to special court

MP Shashi Tharoor is key accused.

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday transferred the Sunanda Pushkar death case, in which her husband and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has been chargesheeted for abetting her suicide, to a special court designated to try legislators.

Metropolitan magistrate Dharmendra Singh transferred the case to additional chief metropolitan magistrate Samar Vishal, who will take up the matter on May 28. Mr Singh said, “Since he is a sitting Member of Parliament, matter is being sent to the special designated court for politicians, that is ACMM Samar Vishal. Matter be taken up on May 28.”

The Delhi police on May 14 had accused Mr Tharoor, the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, for abetting Sunanda’s suicide and told a city court that he should be summoned as an accused in the four-and-half year-old case, claiming that there is sufficient evidence against him.

In about 3,000-page chargesheet, the police has named Mr Tharoor as the only accused while also alleging that he had subjected his wife to cruelty. It had also urged the court to summon the Congress leader as an accused. The couple’s domestic servant, Narayan Singh, has been named one of the key witnesses in the case. Sunanda was found dead in a luxury hotel room on the night of January 17, 2014.

The Congress leader has been charged under sections 498 A (husband or his relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

Under section 498A, the maximum punishment is up to three years of imprisonment, while jail term up to 10 years is prescribed under section 306.

Special public prosecutor Atul Srivastava had told the court that it was presumed that if Sunanda has committed suicide, she must have been subjected to cruelty before death. “Court may take cognisance of this fact that it is a case of abetment as the death has taken place within seven years of the marriage and under the law a case of abetment is made out.”

Under Section 113A of the Indian Evidence Act, a court “may presume, having regard to all the other circumstances of the case, that ... Suicide had been abetted by her husband or by such relative of her husband” if she kills herself within seven years from the date of her marriage.

The charge sheet, which includes several annexures including medical reports, said that Sunanda died within four years of her marriage with Mr Tharoor. The couple had entered the wedlock on August 22, 2010. The suite of the South Delhi hotel, where Sunanda had died, was sealed by the police on the night of her death for investigation.

An FIR was registered by the Delhi police on January 1, 2015 against unknown persons under IPC section 302 (murder).

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