Over four years after Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a hotel suite here, the Delhi Police today charged the senior Congress leader with abetting her suicide, claiming there was enough evidence to proceed against him.
Tharoor, 62, dismissed as "preposterous" the nearly 3,000-page charge sheet filed before a city court and asserted he intends to contest it "vigorously" while the Congress stood by the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram and a former international civil servant, alleging it is a "conspiracy" by the Modi government to defame him.
In a blow to Tharoor, the suave Congress leader is the only person to be arrayed as an accused in the case in which the police have concluded that it was a case of suicide and not murder. An FIR was registered by Delhi Police on January 1, 2015 against unknown persons under IPC section 302 (murder).
The police has also alleged that Tharoor had subjected his wife to cruelty.
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(IPC). While section 498 A entails maximum punishment of 3 years in prison, the section 306 attracts a maximum jail term of 10 years.
Pushkar's death had created a sensation as it came shortly after a bitter spat between the couple over the twitter, over his alleged affair with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar. Pushkar, 51,was found dead in a suite in Hotel Leela, a luxury hotel in Chankayapuri, on the night of January 17, 2014.
The charge sheet in the mysterious death of Pushkar was filed before Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmendra Singh, who will consider it on May 24. The agency while asking the court to take cognisance of the charge sheet said there was enough evidence to proceed against Tharoor. It urged the court to summon Tharoor as an accused.
The couple's domestic servant Narayan Singh is one of the key witnesses in the case.
The charge sheet that includes several annexures noted that Pushkar died within four years of her marriage. The couple had entered into wedlock on August 22, 2010. It was the third marriage for both Tharoor and Pushkar,
According to prosecution sources, the charge sheet has mentioned that Pushkar was allegedly subjected to mental as well as physical cruelty.
After all the possible and material evidence collected and verified, it was felt that his custodial interrogation would not be required in the case at this stage, the charge sheet, which contains several medical reports, said.
Tharoor has not been arrested in the case as he had joined the investigation when required.
The Delhi Police said the charge sheet was finalised on the basis of "medico-legal and forensic evidence".
"On the basis of medico-legal and forensic evidence analysed during investigation as well as opinion of psychological autopsy experts, the charge sheet was filed. The matter is sub judice," said a Delhi Police spokesperson.
Psychological autopsy is a reconstructive mental state evaluation to understand an individual's mental state at and around the time of death for the purpose of identifying the cause of death.
Tharoor took to twitter to respond to the charge sheet.
"I have taken note of the filing of this preposterous charge sheet &intend to contest it vigorously. No one who knew Sunanda believes she would ever have committed suicide, let alone abetment on my part," he tweeted.
"It does not speak well of the methods or motivations of the Delhi Police. In oct 17, the Law Officer made a statement in the Delhi High Court that they have not found anything against anyone & now in 6 months they say that I have abetted a suicide. unbelievable!," Tharoor added.
"We reject the charges totally... Where is the charge coming from?....It is coming from the BJP headquarters..it is coming from the factory of lies."
The Congress in Kerala described as 'politically motivated' the charge sheet while a state BJP leader demanded the MP's resignation.
Opposition leader in the Kerala assembly Ramesh Chennithala said "using power, an attempt is being made by BJP to suppress and insult congress leaders."
On several occasions, "wrong" reports have been given to the media with regard to the case to "insult" Tharoor, the Congress leader said in a statement.
BJP leader M T Ramesh demanded that Tharoor immediately resign as an MP.