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Have Not Seen or Relied Upon Sunanda Pushkar's Tweets in Case Related to her Death: Police to HC

File photo of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and wife Sunanda Pushkar.

File photo of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and wife Sunanda Pushkar.

Tharoor, in his application, has said the tweets and Twitter timeline of Pushkar are of utmost importance in the case and as she is not alive, there is an apprehension that they might be deleted, denying him a crucial right to exonerate himself from the alleged charges levelled against him.

New Delhi: The police on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court it has not seen the tweets of deceased Sunanda Pushkar nor was it relying on them in the case related to her death in which her husband and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor is the sole accused.

The investigating agency said that her tweets are not part of the record or the charge sheet filed in the case and if Tharoor wants to rely on them, they are in the public domain and he can access them.

The submission was made before Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri in response to Tharoor's plea seeking directions to the Delhi Police to preserve the Twitter account and tweets made by his Pushkar prior to her death in 2014.

The former Union minister 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, for which the maximum punishments are three years jail term and 10 years imprisonment, respectively.

Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa said the tweets are part of the electronic record before the trial court in the form of Pushkar's laptop and mobile phone.

He said all his client was seeking was to access her Twitter account through those devices and show the trial court her tweets prior to her death so as to indicate her state of mind.

Tharoor's advocate said this was relevant as four autopsy reports and three medical board reports were not able to confirm till date whether it was a suicide or a homicide and the police in 2017 went for a psychological autopsy of the deceased which involves ascertaining her state of mind prior to her death.

"What would be a better indication of her state of mind than her tweets of that day," the senior lawyer argued. He also said the police was not relying on the tweets as it would lead to closure of the case.

Instead, they relied on the witness statements, recorded by the police under section 161 of Criminal Procedure Code, which have referred to Pushkar's tweets while commenting on her state of mind.

After hearing both sides, the high court gave time to the police to file its submissions along with case law on the issue raised by Tharoor in his plea and listed the matter for hearing on September 18.

Pahwa had earlier also argued before the high court that Pushkar never had any suicidal ideations which is manifested from the series of tweets withheld by Delhi Police from the trial court.

Tharoor, in his application, has said the tweets and Twitter timeline of Pushkar are of utmost importance in the case and as she is not alive, there is an apprehension that they might be deleted, denying him a crucial right to exonerate himself from the alleged charges levelled against him.

The application was filed in a pending petition seeking direction to the police to place before the trial court certain tweets of Pushkar.

Tharoor has sought direction to the police to take steps to preserve the social media account and tweets by asking 'Twitter India' to preserve Pushkar's account till the pendency of the proceedings before the trial court.

The plea referred to Twitter's policies as per which it can delete the accounts of users who have been inactive for a prolonged period of time.

Further, in certain cases, if some authorised person or close relative of a deceased person contacts Twitter, the account of such deceased person can be deactivated. In such cases of deletion of account or deactivation of account, the tweets and contents of the Twitter timeline are lost forever, it has said.

The police had earlier 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 a few days before her death, it had said. Police has accused Tharoor of torturing his wife which led her to commit suicide.

Pushkar, 51, was found dead in a suite of luxury hotel Leela Palace 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.

first published:July 15, 2020, 15:45 IST