The Delhi High Court Monday sought Delhi Police’s response on a plea by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor seeking direction to it to take steps to preserve the Twitter account and tweets of his wife Sunanda Pushkar prior to her death in 2014.
Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri issued a notice to the police on the application which sought a direction to the investigating officer (IO) in the case to write to Twitter for securing the inactive Twitter account of Ms Pushkar as her tweets are extremely relevant for the criminal trial.
The court, which conducted the hearing through video conferencing, listed the matter for further hearing on July 15.
Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa and lawyer Gaurav Gupta, representing Shashi Tharoor, argued that perusal of the tweets of Sunanda Pushkar will reflect her actual frame of mind which is contrary to the prosecution case.
The counsel claimed that she never had any suicidal ideations which is manifested from the series of tweets withheld by Delhi Police from the trial court.
Mr Tharoor, in his application, has said the tweets and Twitter timeline of Sunanda Pushkar are of utmost importance in the case and as she is not alive, there is an apprehension that they might be deleted, denying a crucial right of Shashi Tharoor 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 Ms Pushkar.
Mr Tharoor, the sole accused in the death case of his wife, sought direction to the police to take steps to preserve the social media account and tweets by asking Twitter India to preserve Ms Pushkar’s account till the pendency of the proceedings before the trial court.
The plea referred to Twitter’s policies which allows it to 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 said.
The former Union minister was accused by Delhi Police under relevant sections of the India Penal Code on charges of husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty and abetment of suicide.
The maximum punishment for the offence listed in the charge sheet is 10 years of imprisonment. However, if convicted for murder, the maximum punishment is death penalty while the minimum is life imprisonment.
Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a suite of 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 Mr Tharoor was being renovated at that time.