Over four years after her mysterious death in a Delhi Hotel, the Delhi Police on Monday submitted its chargesheet in the Sunanda Pushkar death case at the Patiala House court in New Delhi, filing charges under Sections 306 and 498A of the IPC.
Section 306 refers to 'Abetment of suicide' while 498A refers to the 'Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty'.
306. Abetment of suicide.—If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.—For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—
(a) any wilful 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; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.
The chargesheet, which names Sunanda Pushkar's husband and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, runs into over 200 pages and was filed a week after the Delhi Police stated in its affidavit to the Supreme Court that it would incorporate opinions given by the prosecution department. Almost 3000 pages of medico-legal and forensic evidence were also submitted by the Delhi Police. The next hearing in the matter will take place on May 24.
Speaking to reporters after the chargesheet was filed, the Delhi Police PRO said:
"The report has been submitted so I can't reveal content. Please wait for sometime. We'll come up with all details in a day or two."
In an earlier affidavit, the Delhi Police had told the apex court that a draft final report had been sent for legal scrutiny. The chargesheet was filed as a result of a plea by BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Dr Subramanian Swamy seeking a CBI-led court-monitored SIT probe into the death of Sunanda Pushkar. Dr Swamy had approached the Supreme Court after the Delhi High court had dismissed his plea at which point the apex court had ruled that his plea was maintainable.
Speaking about the charges that have been listed in the chargesheet, Dr Subramanian Swamy continued to opine that it was murder and not suicide, saying, "I think the trial is going to be where the final charges are decided. Because that's what happens. Police makes a chargesheet. The court asks the police to make evidence and the accused to rebut it and then makes up its mind as to which are the charges worth investigating. There they have a lot of free hand to even institute new charges and that is what I will be insisting on."
He added that this was the starting point of justice and that there is no way to reverse that fact, also tweeeting:
Shashi Tharoor tweeted the following soon after he was named in the chargesheet:
Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in her room 345 in the Leela Palace Hotel on January 17, 2014. A number of investigative reports by Republic TV have exposed the Delhi Police for the shortcomings in their action in the case.
Update at 5 pm: The Congress party has backed Shashi Tharoor calling the chargesheet politically motivated
Update at 5:15 pm: As Shashi Tharoor has been named in the chargesheet and is a member of Parliament (MP) the matter has been transferred to special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar.