No definite opinion on cause of Sunanda's death, Tharoor tells court; seeks discharge

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, accused in a case related to his wife Sunanda Pushkar's death, has told a Delhi court that he should be discharged as various investigations have been conducted by experts but they have not given a 'definite opinion on the cause of death'.

Tharoor, represented by Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa, sought discharge in the case, saying there was no evidence against him to prove the offence punishable under either section 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) or 306 (abetment of suicide) of IPC.

Pahwa said her death should be treated as accidental.

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

Pahwa told special judge Geetanjli Goel on Wednesday that during the course of the investigation there have been a plethora of reports by experts before the investigating officier (IO) but there was 'no definite opinion on the cause of death'.

“These reports have been drafted by some of the nation's most renowned doctors & forensic experts. Furthermore, a psychological autopsy was conducted in this investigation.

“All of these reports have one thing in common that is 'no definite opinion on the cause of death'. As experts have failed to establish death by suicide or homicide, one must conclude that the death would fall into the only remaining category which is accidental death,” Pahwa told.

He added that even after years of investigation by the police, the prosecution has failed to conclusively identify the cause of death.

Pahwa further submitted before the court that Pushkar was grappling with various medical ailments at the time of her death.

“In January 2014, she was not a healthy person. A lady who can't talk, who was on a wheelchair, who had autoimmune disease, they say such a lady is fit,” he told the court, adding that “when suicide is not established how could the question of abetment to suicide arise”.

Pahwa added that 'the Investigating Officer erroneously formed an opinion vis-a-vis the commission of an offence”.

“However, reports and other material relied upon in fact exonerates Tharoor from all charges. “Such a case has never been seen before, nobody (friends or relatives) filed any complaint or made any statement alleging mental cruelty against Sunanda Pushkar by Tharoor,” he told the court.

In the absence of any of the essential ingredients of 498A or 306 of IPC it would be absurd to frame such charges, he said. “The opinion of the Autopsy Board took into consideration circumstantial evidence beyond the four corners of the autopsy room which is not permissible. “The Board has failed to substantiate their opinion during the course of the investigation due to which the IO decided to move onto seeking opinion from another Medical Board,” Pahwa told the court.

The arguments on charge remained inconclusive and the court will resume the hearing on March 23.

Tharoor has been charged under sections 498A and 306 of the Indian Penal Code, but was not arrested in the case. He was granted bail on July 5, 2018. PTI UK SA