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HC trashes Swamy PIL on Sunanda death probe as ‘political interest litigation’

Judges said the BJP leader hid the fact that he was from a rival political party and did not back up his allegation of the case being influenced by evidence

india Updated: Oct 26, 2017 15:41 IST
Soibam Rocky Singh
Soibam Rocky Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi HC,sunanda pushkar,shashi tharoor
Subramanian Swamy had filed a petition seeking a court-monitored CBI investigation into the death of Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who died in 2014. (HT file photo)

The Delhi High Court chastised BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday while rejecting his petition that sought a court-monitored investigation into the death of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar.

Terming Swamy’s petition a “political interest litigation”, the judges said there was no reason to believe the investigation was being influenced by anyone as alleged by the BJP leader.

“It is extremely unfortunate that the court is being used in this manner,” the bench of justices S Muralidhar and IS Mehta remarked, adding, “courts should be careful in not letting the judicial machinery being used by political personalities for their own purposes”.

The police report, the judges said, does not suggest the investigation carried by the Special Investigating Team was being ‘botched up or was under the influence of anyone’.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain said the Delhi Police and the Centre do not “subscribe” to Swamy’s views that Tharoor made attempts to hush up the case or continued to influence the investigation.

Pushkar was found dead in January 2014 at a hotel room in the national capital. Officials believe suicide to be the most likely reason for her death, with autopsies identifying a deadly cocktail of drugs and alcohol after she passed away.

“This is perhaps a textbook example of political interest litigation dressed up as public interest litigation,” the bench said of Swamy’s petition.

In his plea, the BJP leader said there has been a constant attempt to block the investigation into the death of Pushkar and alleged a case was filed almost a year later and nothing had happened after that.

Swamy sought a time-bound probe in the case, saying “very influential people are involved in the case, leading to attempts to protect them, and the matter has faced a lot of unnecessary delay already”.

But the court asked Swamy to explain the basis of the allegations since it involved a person who belongs to a rival political party.

The bench asked why Swamy has not presented evidence in support of his allegations in the petition. “Which part of your petition is based on your personal knowledge and which part is based on belief,” the court asked, saying Swamy cannot make such “sweeping allegation”.

The BJP leader sought time to file a separate affidavit to give details of the basis of his petition, saying he takes “100% responsibility” for what was said in the petition.

“You said in your affidavit that you have not concealed any information. Today, when we ask you to explain the basis of your allegations, you say you will file another affidavit. That means you have concealed information,” the bench remarked.

Swamy reacted, “This is not my first PIL. I know how the court works. This is the first time I have been questioned like this. I have been a law minister. What you are asking me tantamounts to accusing me of concealing evidence.”

The court also questioned Swamy for not stating anywhere in his petition that he is a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party and that the person against whom he was making the allegation was from the opposition party.

The bench clarified that its comments on Thursday should not be seen in the context of the investigation. The special investigating team will take the investigation to its logical conclusion,” the bench said.

First Published: Oct 26, 2017 14:03 IST