Opinion » Comment

Updated: January 21, 2014 01:03 IST

Truth is the best defence

R. K. Raghavan
Comment (15)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Let the law take its course: Shashi Tharoor has to explain himself over what transpired between him and Sunanda, to the extent that the law demands. But for this, he needs to have the assurance that he will be judged by facts and not by perceptions. Whether or not he should continue in office is a call that the Prime Minister should take. Picture shows him at Sunanda’s funeral.
Let the law take its course: Shashi Tharoor has to explain himself over what transpired between him and Sunanda, to the extent that the law demands. But for this, he needs to have the assurance that he will be judged by facts and not by perceptions. Whether or not he should continue in office is a call that the Prime Minister should take. Picture shows him at Sunanda’s funeral.

All the compassion that we would like to show Shashi Tharoor may not dilute the need to invoke the law of the land with the greatest possible seriousness

The only occasion I have seen Shashi Tharoor was at a Madras Book Club meeting many years ago. If I remember right, he was late for the meeting.

He was not to fault, because he was held up in traffic. He was profusely apologetic, and later went on to charm the audience with his customary remarks.

Shashi’s greatest asset is his pleasant and debonair visage. In all his television appearances, he comes across as a calm and composed individual who speaks with clarity, never raising his voice to prove his point.

He never gives the impression of being arrogant or egoistic. This is why my heart goes out to him and his stepson for having to live through this tragedy. This is the time he needs extra consideration and sympathy, not the witchhunt that is slowly emerging.

It is easy to trample over Shashi because he is down. It is equally easy to inject politics into a personal misfortune.

This is a test of civilised behaviour for all those who did not approve of Shashi’s peccadilloes and indiscretions. There is no doubt he has been grossly indiscreet and callous, not once, but many times.

Compassion and legality

A certain disdain for the law is possibly built into him. We will never know whether this was due to the fact that he was far too long under the comfortable shelter of the United Nations. That is no reason however why we should go after him now.

He has to explain himself over what transpired between him and Sunanda Pushkar, to the extent that the law demands. But for this, he needs to have the assurance that he will be judged by facts and not perceptions. All the compassion that we would like to show may not dilute the need to invoke the law of the land with the greatest possible seriousness.

Shashi may or may not survive the rigours of the cold application of law.

It is too soon to predict whether the results of forensic tests will prove any crime perpetrated on a hapless Sunanda, who was as charming as her husband. There is credible evidence only to show that the couple had a widely known spat, possibly over an alleged romantic relationship Shashi had with a Pakistani journalist. Shashi is said to have claimed it was innocent and Platonic and we would like to believe so.

Possibly Sunanda did not, and her Tweets and conversations with a few friends revealed that she was greatly exercised about it.

You cannot blame Sunanda for this quintessential response of a spouse. There is also evidence of verbal exchanges between the couple in the presence of outsiders, including one on a flight last week.

A Union Minister was said to be privy to this as a co-passenger. I am concerned also over reported injuries on Sunanda’s person. How serious they were, and whether they had any link at all to the eventual death of Sunanda, is anybody’s guess.

The findings of the post-mortem examination and expert opinion thereon are crucial.

High profile

The happening has all the ingredients of a drama. A high-profile couple is involved. Shashi is a serving Union Minister. Whether or not he should continue in office is a call that the Prime Minister should take. I personally feel that the Opposition should not meddle in this.

Shashi’s relationship with a Pakistani journalist is being touted as one reason he should be thoroughly investigated. The IB and RAW could possibly provide some inputs on the background of that journalist to decide whether this matter needs to be pursued at all.

Political pressure

The investigation of a case registered under Section 174 Cr.P.C. is strictly within the jurisdiction of the Delhi Police. I have no doubt it has the professional elan to do a thorough job. But then, there is a popular perception that like any other force, the Delhi Police is subject to political pressure. This is unfortunate but true.

The fact that Shashi will be the focus for ferreting out the truth behind the incident highlights the imperative of a credible investigation. Nothing else will satisfy the public and women’s rights activists who may see the death as one driven by spouse harassment.

I am sure Shashi himself will want a credible investigation. He cannot live for too long in the shadow of suspicion, in addition to bearing the burden of a huge tragedy.

This is why I would advocate a court-monitored CBI investigation. The Home Ministry can suo motu get the case transferred to the CBI, or someone else can move the Delhi HC demanding this. Those in authority, who are Shashi’s well-wishers, may think otherwise. They will be doing him the greatest disservice by shielding him from an objective and clinical investigation.

Let all the facts come out, so that political prejudice does not unjustly halt the career of an otherwise eminently likeable, well-meaning and genial individual.

(The writer is a former CBI Director.)

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I appreciate Raghavan's article sheerly for its smooth style to convey that while compassion
and sympathy may be granted to Sashi Tharoor, he cannot and should not escape the
investigation in to the unfortunate death of his spouse Sunanda. Raghavan is very polished
and sophisticated in his admiration for SashiTharoor and his heart goes for his present
tragedy in his life; but at the same time his specialist training and investigating mind as a
super cop, puts across smoothly and effectively, the need for a thorough investigation to look
in to all angles of suspicion, particularly in the context of open spat between him and
Sunanda over his alleged relationship with the Pakistani journalist. He also brings in
instances of Sashi Tharoor's disdain for law and his indiscretions, callousness not once but
many times. He strongly feels the investigation needs to be transferred to CBI and monitored
by a Court, fearing political pressures; all in Sashi Tharoor's interests. Very cool!

from:  M.R.Sampath
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 21:49 IST

What is this spousal Harassment? If Mr.Tharoor had told his wife, he
wants to have an affair with the Pakistan journalist then he is
innocent. His commitment to his wife as Husband ends in informing her
before he had started an affair. Why should the state interfere in
things, which are personal between two matured individuals? What sort
of legislation, which punishes only men for adultery? If Mr. Tharoor
had informed his late wife then he shouldn't be held guilty of any
harassment. If Mr. Tharoor would have wanted a divorce then Sunanda
should should have given her consent for Divorce. I don't support
cheating in marital or in committed relationships but honesty to
inform your spouse or partner that things or not working out between
you. I personally believe if a spouse or a partner cheats, while
maintaining the facade of being committed then the other spouse should
have the option of filing a civil suit for damages.

from:  Siva Raman
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 17:34 IST

Well said. I agree wit Mr Raghavan that it is easy to be tempted to inject politics into a personal misfortune and civlity is the need from those who disagree with him and his political affiliation.This should be treated as a personal tragedy needing all the sympathy and our compassion,as long it has nothing to do with the affairs of the state.

from:  Capt Harish Pillay
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 15:14 IST

I think this is unwarranted support with out going through the facts.
The law should take its right and own course without any prejudice. Hope
the political influence does not interfere with the case.

Let the departed soul rest in peace.

from:  s.muthupalaniappan
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 15:08 IST

The Delhi tragedy is a lesson to all in the political field. The former CBI Chief and the
involved minister speak the same language on the present issue. The trial by the media
and the comments by certain individuals is definitely going beyond the LAKSHMAN REKHA
and a speedy disposal of the pending issue will definitely Sasi tharoor , his critics as well as
His supporters.

from:  C p Chandra das
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 14:36 IST

Besides the poise and elan Mr. Shashi Tharoor oozes, a bizarre trail
of misfortune follows the Union Minister. A Twitter pioneer among the
bureaucrats; a little addict over it as well, the medium has steadily
consumed him. One might also wonder; seeing his tweets might provide
for the impression that - besides his charm-fatale - he was more of a
ribbon-cutting and lamp-lighting minister with instantaneous e-
broadcasting of those acts. Of course, in similar vein he was actively
engaged in critical events of human development. Wish Mr. Tharoor good
luck in days to come. Country will certainly stand to gain in whatever
measure, if we could put aside his silly misadventures and look up to
him in a different light.

from:  Reuben Smile
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 14:30 IST

From whatever I have heard so far, no body is hinting at any suspicion against Tharoor. I do not know, why the author has rushed to give his unsolicited opinion and views on what should be done. In the matter of choice between CBI and Delhi Police , perhaps, he is right. But then why only in the case of Tharoor because he is a PLU?. (person like us)

from:  R.Sundaram
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 11:10 IST

Mr. Tharoor is a well known orator, writer and of course his demeanour
is charming. And that there should be a balanced probe that brings out
the facts of the case, without politicisation of an individual's
private life. But does it not make sense that people like him who are
public authorities as well as celebrities, should have made their
amours public, especially on social media and that too when they are
The very act of showing affection to women outside marital
relationships is considered adultery as per Indian culture. Therefore
as per his public standing he should have practised restraint because,
yes he might not be directly involved in his wife's death, but the
'perception' that he was one of the reasons cannot be discounted. This
perception is enough to mock at the piousness of a marital
relationship which people in India consider sacred and reflects the
degeneration of values.

from:  Siddhi Bangard
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 10:54 IST

Suggestion is laudable. The case being a composition of husband wife relationship, an unfortunate incident to a Union Minister, having occurred when the Minister was away, a seemingly offshoot of difference between a couple due to the male companion’s platonic relationship… is complicated. Yet can a timeline be fixed for the inquest and declaration of verdict?. In the aftermath of Nirbhaya case, there is emphasis for speedy trial of cases. Time is therefore an essence in this probe, notwithstanding the sensitivities

from:  S Raghavan
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 10:31 IST

I agree that Shashi Tharoor should not be presumed guilty. From what we can see thus far, it seems like Sunanda was slightly irritated by the fact that Tharoor had exchanged some tweets with a woman journalist. This is a devastating turn of events for all concerned. Sunanda's son, Shashi, his children, their families and also, to some extent the Pakistani journalist, who seems to have had one 'transgression' and that was to follow Shashi Tharoor?? That is enough to conclude she meddled in their happy marriage? If a tweet can do that, god help all marriages. Whatever, the investigation should take its course and there should be a gag order on all leakages from the investigating units until they've concluded and all facts are out. Also, the CBI is notorious for being swayed by the party in power, look at how the CBI has played with the life of YSRCP chief Jagan and his family... So.. it's best to have no leaks to media until the investigation is concluded.

from:  Sadhana
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 09:27 IST

This is a fair and balanced view. It may take a while to see the reason in this cloudy environment.

from:  Seshadri Srinivas
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 07:22 IST

Very well written, Sir. Our sympathy is with Shashi Tharoor whose personal tragedy ahs become focus of public attention. However, I believe that his relationship with the Pakistani journalist should be more thoroughly investigated. A public person of the rank of Union Minister has to exercise utmost caution and discretion in dealing with foreign journalists, especially females and from Pakistan.

from:  Krishnan
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 05:33 IST

He seems to be a nice peroson and a good politician, as a well educated and public figure chances of him involving in this may be less, always haunted by allegations true or not. Let the truth come out and not victimize him. Already he is suffering. we don't have to give him more jumping on conclusions. Let an uncorrupted body investigate for the truth.

from:  John Mathew
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 03:01 IST

Its a relief to hear a sensible voice even as our media is rife with irrational, politically
motivated, insensitive comments.

from:  Philip Eapen
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 01:59 IST

Certainly a few explanations are in order, and ideally, Mr Tharoor would have been only obliged to share the details with the agencies of law in whom the responsibility of establishing the truth is entrusted. However, given the fact that he is a public figure, and even more so that there seems to be a significant degree of public dislike towards him, it becomes extraordinarily necessary to rescue the truth from a mass of people who seem rather keen to vilify him, and maybe unfortunately, place what should have otherwise been personal relationship details, in full public glare. And even then there is no guarantee that if the established truth is so indisputable that it acquits Mr Tharoor of all guilt, a trait of character that most people seem inclined to bestow upon him from their own uninformed but readily dark conjectures, that he will ever walk lightly in a mindset that is India. And therein seems to lie a tragedy far more severe than what his late wife unfortunately encountered and to which she perhaps very sadly succumbed.

from:  Kay Nathan
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 01:38 IST
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