Congress MP Shashi Tharoor was cleared by a Delhi court today of charges linked to the mysterious death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar in 2014.
Sunanda Pushkar, 51, was found dead in a suite of a luxury hotel in Delhi on the night of January 17, 2014, while Shashi Tharoor was attending a Congress meet in Delhi along with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Gandhis and the entire Congress leadership.
The Tharoors had moved into the hotel because the MP’s home was being renovated.
Shashi Tharoor was charged with abetment to suicide and cruelty by the Delhi Police.
The court today refused to accept a Delhi Police chargesheet that said Mr Tharoor, 65, should be investigated, and cleared the former Union Minister of all charges.
“Most grateful, your honour. It’s been seven-and-half years of absolute torture. I really appreciate it,” Mr Tharoor said.
In a longer statement later, he wrote that his family would finally mourn Sunanda Pushkar in peace. “This brings a significant conclusion to the long nightmare which had enveloped me after the tragic passing of my late wife Sunanda. I have weathered dozens of unfounded accusations and media vilification patiently, sustained my faith in the judiciary, which today stands vindicated,” he wrote.
Mr Tharoor said in the current system of justice, the process was all too often the punishment.
The Congress leader, seeking his discharge, had told the court that evidence showed the death of Sunanda Pushkar was neither a suicide nor homicide.
The death should be considered an accident, he had said, as Ms Pushkar had been struggling with various medical ailments at the time of her death.
“Not even a single witness” had made any allegations of dowry, harassment or cruelty against Mr Tharoor, his lawyer Vikas Pahwa had argued.
The lawyer also said a Special Investigation Team had exonerated the politician.
After years of investigation by the police, the prosecution had failed to conclusively establish the cause of Ms Pushkar’s death, the court was told.
Mr Tharoor and Ms Pushkar married in 2010. Her death four years later triggered shock and speculation in political circles, especially as some of her last tweets hinted at a rift between the two and appeared to accuse the MP of an affair with a Pakistani journalist.
A post mortem revealed no apparent reason for her death. A week after her death, the police claimed she seemed to have died of hidden poisoning.
A year later, they registered a murder case without naming any suspect. Three years later, they charged Mr Tharoor.
Mr Tharoor, frequently targeted by political rivals over the case, had called the charges “preposterous and baseless” and the product of a “malicious and vindictive campaign”.
The Tharoors were often in the media glare over allegations of IPL corruption, which led to his resignation as a Union Minister and “50 crore girlfriend” jibes from the BJP.
“The truth has finally prevailed. The persistent abuse, slander and vilification of our colleague Tharoor by BJP and TV anchors… today the court has finally held that Tharoor has nothing to do with the alleged murder. Will the PM come forward and apologise for his remarks to Tharoor and Congress party? The falsehood and lies of BJP have fallen flat,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.