There is more than one political twist in the case of AIIMS doctor Sudhir Gupta who has alleged he was under pressure to act “unprofessionally” in the Sunanda Tharoor autopsy.
In his first affidavit to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on May 13, Gupta, head of AIIMS forensic medicine department, only contested the promotion of a colleague. In his representation to the then Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on May 6 and to AIIMS director Dr M C Misra on May 12 also, he only gave his views on why his colleague was not eligible for promotion.
It was only in his second submission, a letter to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on May 27, a day after the BJP-led government was sworn in, that Gupta alleged an “illegal, politically motivated agenda to oust me from the post of HoD since I have taken an honest and ethical stand in the post-mortem in the Sunanda Pushkar and Nido Tania cases.” In his letter sent to new Health Minister and AIIMS president Dr Harsh Vardhan also, Gupta mentioned the two cases.
Subsequently, in his rejoinder to the CAT filed on June 26, Gupta alleged that AIIMS was acting “at the instance of its former president with mala fide intention to punish” him for “refusing to act unprofessionally in the Sunanda Pushkar autopsy matter.”
As evidence of the “pressure”, he attached a copy of an email, purportedly sent by an independent doctor to Pushkar’s husband, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. Recalling that he had examined Pushkar on December 12 last year, the email says, “Coconut water, which has a very high content of potassium, could have elevated her serum potassium levels and possibly slowed her heart rate. In addition, if she took alprax, it could have contributed to the slowing down of her heart rate and made it possibly difficult for her to call for help.”
Gupta also attached a reply purportedly sent by Tharoor in which he states that he will share the opinion with “Dr Mishra of AIIMS”. Gupta has alleged in his affidavit that this is a reference to AIIMS director Dr M C Misra.
Gupta has said this email, dated January 26, shows Tharoor has “admitted influencing Director, AIIMS, for a tailor made autopsy report”. In the email, Tharoor purportedly states, “I’m drawing this to the attention of Dr Mishra of AIIMS through our mutual friend… I recall your fear that without regular hydration and salt intake, she could suffer from recurring episodes of dangerously low blood pressure. Clearly, this must have continued…