Protocol breached to access Sunanda’s autopsy report
Former health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday rubbished the claim that at any point of time there was any pressure to manipulate the autopsy report of Sunanda Puskar, wife of former union minister Shashi Tharoor. However, documents in possession of Millennium Post indicate to the contrary.
There was a well-drawn-out plan to push Sunanda’s death, whose body was found in mysterious circumstances at a high-end hotel in Netaji Nagar, as natural even though there were tell-tale signs to suggest otherwise. On the written request of Pushkar’s son from an earlier marriage, Shiv Menon, the post-mortem examination was conducted by a medical board constituted by the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Prima facie this would look to be absolutely normal but for the fact that the Director AIIMS should not have had any role in constituting the board. The Delhi government guidelines issued in this matter (F.25/08/Misc.Corresp./2011/H&FW 5828 dated 24.09.2013) by the Lieutenant Governor states, ‘The HOD of the Forensic Science Department of that hospital will constitute medical board from among the faculty of that medical college/hospital.’
What made AIIMS Director Professor MC Mishra to take the authority of the constitution of the medical board in his own hands even though the request from magistrate, as per the guidelines, was addressed to the head of forensic sciences department? The media department of the AIIMS, which went to press last week rubbishing charges of the head of forensic sciences department, has not cared to answer on this count.
Sources claimed that the arrangement was made as part of the larger conspiracy to alter/reconstitute the medical board through the office of the Director, if the present board did not give a pliable report. The Director is also alleged to have insisted that the post-mortem report be prepared and handed over to the magistrate in his office on 20 January 2014.
On Professor Mishra’s insistence, against the protocol, the report was handed over to the magistrate in director’s presence in his office by the head of forensic medicine department with the area assistant commissioner of police, house officer from local police station and another police official house as witness. However, the saving grace was that the report was given by the head of forensic medicine to the inquest making magistrate in a sealed cover ruling out the scope of access to the document by any person outside the prescribed protocol.
As an afterthought, AIIMS could forward a counter that since it was an extraordinary case, the Director wanted close monitoring. But then the impugned government guidelines are very clear. It states, ‘For the cases of extra-ordinary and sensitive nature… the Health Department on receipt of request from Delhi Police/Home Department, will constitute a medical board consisting of doctors drawn from different hospitals.’ Therefore, there is no role of the Director of the AIIMS or heads of four other designated hospitals in matter of post-mortem examination related to medico-legal cases.