Sunanda case: Court dismisses plea to produce tweets

Sunanda Pushkar death case: Delhi court dismisses Shashi Tharoor's plea for production of tweets

A Delhi court Thursday dismissed a plea of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor seeking to place before it certain tweets of his deceased wife Sunanda Pushkar before her death in 2014.

Tharoor, the sole accused in the death case of his wife, had told the court that Delhi Police was trying to selectively place reliance on a some of Pushkar's tweets to claim the differences which allegedly led her to commit suicide, whereas in entirety they showed her positive frame of mind quite optimistic about her relationship with him.

The former Union minister who had got pre-arrest bail, later converted to regular bail, was accused by Delhi Police under Sections 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar dismissed the application saying that "at the stage of (framing of) charge such a roving inquiry by the court is not expected".

Tharoor will have the liberty to produce the tweets at an appropriate stage, the court said.

"When the documents are in the public domain as per the submission of the senior counsel for the accused, the accused will have the liberty to produce them at an appropriate stage. The court will not venture into this exercise of procuring document for the accused which may possibly contain his defence.

"It goes without saying that at the stage of charge such a roving inquiry by the Court is not expected and the court has to look into the documents of the Prosecution to ascertain whether a prima facie case is made out or not. In view of the aforesaid, I am of the considered view that the application is liable to be dismissed and it is ordered accordingly," the judge said.

Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for Tharoor, had told the court that "the documents/tweets are of sterling quality and need perusal by the court as they will assist the court in framing the charge or discharge the accused."

"The prosecution is trying to selectively place reliance on a small part of the Twitter Account/ tweets of the deceased and withholding the remaining tweets," the application filed by advocate Gaurav Gupta said, adding that "if the police wanted to access the Twitter account, it could have simply downloaded the same as the account is available online even today and that the probe agency had undertook a half-baked attempt in procuring the Twitter Account."

Tharoor had earlier told the court, "This is a case where cause of death is not established yet. The charge sheet took very adventurous route and wanted a psychological autopsy. But nothing has established in the case. There are rather reports which say it was neither homicide nor suicide. A psychological autopsy was conducted. They wanted to know the mental status of victim. But till date they are not clear whether she committed suicide or it was a homicide."

The tweets clearly indicate that the deceased was not having any 'suicidal ideation' as is sought to be alleged by the prosecution, he said.

"Rather, the deceased was in a positive frame of mind and was quite optimistic about her relationship with the applicant (Tharoor). Despite such overwhelming material, the police has sought to conclude that the deceased allegedly committed suicide due to her differences with the applicant," he had said.

He had added that the police already had these documents and it would have been fairly considered, "there would have been no need to conduct of the psychological autopsy of the deceased, since the documents in question are in fact, direct evidence of her mental make up soon before her death".

"However, the same has been deliberately sought to be suppressed by the prosecution," he told the court.

The police had told the court that Pushkar was suffering from mental agony due to a strained relationship with her husband.

She had a scuffle with her husband and had various injury marks few days before her death, they said.

Police accused Tharoor of torturing his wife which abetted her to commit suicide.

The maximum punishment for the offence listed in the charge sheet is 10 years of imprisonment. However, if convicted for 302 (murder), the maximum punishment is death penalty while the minimum is life imprisonment.

Pushkar's death had created a sensation as it came shortly after a bitter spat between the couple on Twitter over his alleged affair with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar.

Pushkar, 51, was found dead in a suite of luxury hotel Leela in Delhi's Chanakyapuri on the night of January 17, 2014.

The couple was staying at the hotel as the official bungalow of Tharoor was being renovated at that time.

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