New Delhi: Three suspects in the Sunanda Pushkar murder case, two of them employed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and the third a friend, will undergo lie detector test with a Delhi court today allowing investigators to conduct it after they consented.
The three suspects—Tharoor's domestic help Narain Singh, driver Bajrangi and friend Sanjay Dewan—said they were willing to undergo the polygraph test. The court put a condition that the guidelines laid down by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Supreme Court should be followed in conducting the procedure.
“Application for polygraph test on the three suspects is allowed, subject to NHRC and the Supreme Court guidelines,” Metropolitan Magistrate Sunil Kumar Sharma said. The guidelines stipulates among others things that the lawyer of those facing the test should be present and no self incriminatory questions, not related to the case, should be asked.
Three other persons—S K Sharma, Vikas Ahlawat and Sunil Takru—had earlier undergone the lie detector test in connection with the case.
Tharoor has been questioned thrice in this case so far. Pushkar was found dead in the hotel suite on January 17 last year, days after a public spat on Twitter where she accused her husband of having an affair with Pakistani journalist Mehar Tarar.
During the hearing, the police told the court that Dewan, Singh and Bajrangi were questioned during the investigation but they were apparently hiding some crucial facts. “They are not disclosing all the facts. They are hiding some crucial facts regarding the injuries on Sunanda Pushkar's body,” the police claimed.
As soon as the hearing commenced, the magistrate asked, “where are the three suspects?”.
The three persons marked their presence before the court after which the magistrate asked the investigating officer, “show me the relevant case diary. What are the facts they are not disclosing.”
Responding to the court's query, the police said Singh and Bajrangi were not disclosing the facts regarding injuries on Pushkar's body while Dewan had cancelled his flight after the incident came into light and called a doctor from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital instead of the doctor who was present at the hotel.
The counsel appearing for the three suspects told the court that their clients have fully cooperated with the police and they were not concealing anything.
“The Supreme Court has said that this (polygraph test) is not a relied upon evidence but if the police wants to do this, we are giving the consent,” the counsel said, adding, “My clients are ready to undergo the polygraph test because we don't want to give the impression that we are running away from the probe.”
During the hearing, senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for Singh and Bajrangi, told the magistrate that police should inform the court regarding the questions which they want to ask during the test.
At this juncture, the IO requested the magistrate that it is a sensitive matter and the probe was still underway and the scribes present in the court room should vacate it as it would “disarray the investigation.”
Following the request by the IO as well as concurrence of the defence counsel on it, the court asked the media persons to go outside.
During the closed door proceedings, the IO told the court about the ongoing investigation and also informed it about the questions which the police want to ask these three suspects, sources said.
The senior counsel argued that the police should not make lie detector test as a substitute to gather material evidence. “If I don't know any answer and say no to it, that doesn't mean I am telling a lie,” he said adding that the questions to be asked should be restricted to the facts mentioned in the application filed by the police.
Regarding Dewan, the IO informed the court that he was not giving his mobile phone to the police used at the time of the incident claiming it is broken or misplaced. The police, in its plea, had urged the court to initiate proceedings of polygraph test on the three suspects saying they were hiding material facts relating to the case.
The police had said in the plea that on January 17, 2014 Dewan came to the hotel at 5 pm and remained there till the discovery of Pushkar's death. He could not give plausible reason for cancelling his trip to Mumbai and his coming to the hotel in Delhi, it had said.
“He remained silent about the power cut on January 17, 2014 at about 7 pm in room no. 345 at Leela Hotel just before the discovery of the death of Sunanda Pushkar, while he was very much present in the room along with Shashi Tharoor,” the application had said, adding that he did not properly reply to questions regarding the injuries on Pushkar's body.
In the first week of January this year, police claimed that Sunanda (51) was poisoned, and registered a murder case against unknown persons.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT), formed to probe the case, is learnt to be looking into a possible link with the multi-million dollar Indian Premier League.