Indian court formally charges Shashi Tharoor over wife's death
Posted June 5, 2018 6:00 a.m. EDT
NEW DELHI (CNN) — An Indian court has formally charged Shashi Tharoor, one of India's most prominent politicians, for abetting his wife Sunanda Puskhar's suicide, his lawyer told CNN on Tuesday.
Vikas Pahwa said Tharoor had been ordered to attend a preliminary hearing on July 7.
No warrants have been issued, meaning Tharoor, a former top UN diplomat and best-selling author turned member of parliament for India's opposition Congress Party, doesn't currently face arrest. He is currently on a book tour in Britain.
Tharoor's wife's suicide in 2014 was a high-profile case which gripped the country.
Pushkar, 51, was found dead in her room in a luxury Delhi hotel, prompting frenzied media coverage and speculation about the cause of her death, which was initially labeled "unnatural" and "sudden" by doctors.
The couple had been married for less than seven years when she died, triggering an automatic investigation under Indian law, which resulted in police finally recommending charges against Tharoor in May.
Abetting a suicide carries a possible prison term of up to 10 years in India.
When the charge was first suggested, Tharoor described it as "preposterous" and promised to "contest it vigorously." The Congress Party has also criticized the police investigation and claimed the charges were "politically motivated."
"We completely reject the charge against Shashi Tharoor. They have hounded him, they have persecuted him, they have maligned him. They have carried on a media trial against him," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Tharoor filed a defamation lawsuit against a prominent Indian media house that has openly accused him of involvement in his wife's death. The case is currently ongoing in a Delhi court.
A few days before Puskhar's death, reports emerged alleging that Tharoor had had an affair with a journalist from Pakistan. Indian media reported that Pushkar had hacked into her husband's Twitter account and tweeted about the alleged affair.
The journalist in question dismissed the allegations. Tharoor and Pushkar also released a joint statement, saying that they were "happily married."