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Court orders de-sealing of hotel room where Sunanda died (Lead)

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) A court here on Friday ordered the de-sealing of Room 345 of Hotel Leela Palace where former union minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in January 2014, saying that the hotel can not be made to suffer continuously merely because the investigating team can not ascertain the cause of death.

“As per the status report filed by the investigating agency (Delhi Police), they have not been able to reach to a definitive conclusion regarding the cause of death of the victim and for this reason Leela Hotel can not be made to suffer continuously,” Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma said allowing the hotel’s plea seeking de-sealing of the room.

Directing the room be de-sealed within four weeks and asking the investigating Officer in the case to file a compliance report by August 19, the court observed that police has not given any reasonable ground to continue sealing of the room, which had remained locked since January 17, 2014.

It permitted hotel team to take out the articles lying in the room with due care for the purpose of investigation and arrange a place for their safe custody.

The hotel was also asked to hand over the articles required by the investigating agency.

The court also noted that no investigating team had visited the room for investigation for past one year and said that it is evident of the fact it is not required for further investigation.

“The hotel cannot be part of to unending hardship and loss due to the lethargy on the part of investigating team.

“In the name of investigation the suite of Hotel Leela cannot be locked further,” the court said.A

However, the court granted liberty to Delhi Police to file application seeking more time for probe if they can not conclude investigation within the given time and allow them to visit the room before filing the compliance report.

The hotel had told the court that as the room has been locked for over three years, termites, bugs and other pests have spoiled the whole room and even the adjoining areas.

It also said that they would allow the investigators to take whatever things they want as evidence from the room, even as it noted that no investigating agency had visited it for the past one year and keeping the room closed for three years had caused it great financial loss.

–IANS
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