KOCHI: Former Union minister Shashi Tharoor has informed the Kerala high court he had not acquired any assets of his late wife Sunanda Pushkar either individually or jointly with her son or anybody else as her movable and immovable assets are not yet “ascertainable or estimable”.
In a statement filed in the court on a petition seeking setting aside of his election to Lok Sabha for alleged non-disclosure of details of properties inherited from his late wife in his poll affidavit, the Congress MP stated it was “absolutely false” that he had inherited the substantial portion of his wife’s wealth by virtue of the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act as she was a Canadian citizen.
He said that at the time of filing nomination papers from Thiruvananthapuram, he had not acquired any assets — movable or immovable of his late wife Sunanda, either individually or jointly with her son or any other relative.
“The movable and immovable assets of late Sunanda are not yet ascertainable or estimable and the right of succession to her estate is still uncertain,” he said in the statement filed on a petition from Suresh Kumar.
Tharoor submitted that non statement of details of any of the assets left by Sunanda Pushkar was never with “malafide intentions” or with a view to suppress them. Details were not mentioned only because she was not alive at the relevant time.
Sunanda was not governed by the Act at the time of her death as “she was neither an Indian citizen nor a person governed by the Hindu Succession Act”, Tharoor said, adding his late wife was a Canadian citizen and had shifted to UAE for business purposes and had no properties owned by her in India at the time of her death.
“Sunanda was a permanent resident of state of Ontario. At the time of her death she had properties in Canada and United Arab Emirates (UAE) where she had relocated in connection with her business and had no properties owned by her in India at the time of her death,” it was stated.
As far as Sunanda’s properties in Canada and UAE are concerned, the succession process has to be initiated through through courts of the respective countries. For that,the debts and other liabilities over the estate of the deceased has to be ascertained first and it had to be adjusted against the estate. Only after which the succession can be determined.
“It is also not known whether all the properties she claimed to be hers in the UAE were all registered in her name. Unless the real properties were registered in her name, no successors or heirs could stake claim to such properties which stood unregistered at the time of the death of the expatriate,” it was submitted.
Tharoor pointed out that “since the causes relating to Sunanda’s death is being looked into by Delhi Police and the inquiry is still pending, the process of obtaining succession certificate is yet to begin.”
“The entire process of forensic examinations had to be concluded and the results thereof, including autopsy report, chemical analysis report, viscera report etc would have to be obtained before applications for granting of letters of administration and succession certificates had to be put up before the appropriate courts and authorities. Any of that process has not yet been commenced,” he submitted.
Tharoor stated he had declared the assets of Sunanda as on March 2013 before the then Prime Minister as HRD minister. The details of the assets were declared by him in good faith as told to him by his deceased wife when she was alive.
All assets declared by Sunanda on March 31 2013 were acquired or earned by her prior to marriage with Tharoor and “there were absolutely no properties which were owned or held jointly by both of them during her lifetime and thereafter”.
“It is not disputed that Sunanda was very rich and she had amassed wealth through business and she had owned several movable and real properties which were within the knowledge of first respondent’ (Tharoor).”
Tharoor said he had no intention to “cover up” any of the properties owned by her at the time of making declaration of his assets as Minister of State in 2013.If there was, he would not have set out details of all movable and real assets owned by her abroad in Canada and UAE, including her private and personal collection of invaluable antiques, which were never registered or known or publicised in public domain except for declaration made by him as minister.
So he had not failed to disclose any material detail on any of his movable or immovable assets owned by him. Hence such charges by the petitioner were “absolutely baseless, unfounded and not maintainable”, Tharoor submitted.
Tharoor also said Sunanda had no share or right in the ancestral property held in the name of her father in Jammu & Kashmir.
“Even though she had been under the impression she had a share in her ancestral properties, to the best of the knowledge and information of the first respondent (Tharoor) at the time of filing the nomination papers and the affidavit thereof, she did not have any proprietary rights or interests in any real property in J&K or elsewhere in India at the time of her death and hence nothing was mentioned in the affidavit,” he stated.
BJP leader O Rajagopal had early this week filed an affidavit in the high court, accusing Tharoor of non disclosure of assets inherited from Sunanda Pushkar while filing his nomination papers during the Lok Sabha polls.
The affidavit was filed on a petition by Suresh Kumar, a BJP worker, challenging Tharoor’s election.
Tharoor, who was re-elected from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency, had defeated Rajagopal in the closely contested polls.
According to Rajagopal, the election should be set aside as there is non-compliance with the provisions of Representations of Peoples Act and Rules.