Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

Sunanda Pushkar death row: Harsh Vardhan pulls up AIIMS, seeks report on allegations

The Health Minister has sought a detailed report on the specific allegations concerning Sunanda Pushkar's death. The Health Minister has sought a detailed report on the specific allegations concerning Sunanda Pushkar's death.
Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: July 2, 2014 10:41 am | Updated: July 2, 2014 2:43 pm

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has pulled up the AIIMS director over the controversy concerning the death of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar.

The Health Minister has sought a detailed report on the specific allegations levelled by a doctor, who headed the panel that conducted the post-mortem on Sunanda Pushkar.

“After I became the Health Minister, Dr Sudhir Gupta of AIIMS had written to our department regarding his promotion. But after TV channels yesterday said that he has made a specific allegation, I have written to the AIIMS Director seeking a detailed information in this regard,” Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.

This comes after the doctor concerned filed an affidavit before Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), contesting an order to remove him from the post of head of forensic medicine. He has alleged bias against him for “not bowing” to pressure from “top officials of the institute and then senior Congress ministers” while making Pushkar’s post mortem report.

Dr Gupta told The Indian Express, “Three days before the Congress government fell, there was an order to appoint another HoD in my department which was submitted before the institute body, and I went to CAT against this order. Later I mentioned before the body that this order was passed because of bias against me since I did not succumb to the enormous pressures from top officials and politicians to manipulate the contents of Sunanda Pushkar’s report.”

“I have stated before CAT that I did not bow before these pressures and still submitted the correct report within two days,” he said.

Dr Gupta said CAT had given a stay on the appointment of a new head in the forensic medicine department. A vigilance case has also since been filed against Dr Gupta, which is being handled by the AIIMS vigilance officer.

He also added, “I don’t want to comment on this issue. It is a legal matter, a serious issue, I cannot share with the media. I am a government servant. Whatever I wanted to say, I have said at a competent place.”

The autopsy report had identified the cause of death as “poisoning” and found over a dozen injury marks in her upper body — on one arm, hand, chin, and neck regions — and interpreted them as “scuffle marks”. The viscera samples that were sent or toxicology and histopathology analysis at CFSL reportedly did not find any “conclusive evidence”. Dr Gupta had said immediately after conducting the post mortem that Pushkar’s death was sudden, and unnatural, and that her “cardiac death” was “not from any natural causes or pre-existing disease”.

(with PTI inputs)

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