AT THE heart of the matter is a “missing” heart. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that is probing the 2012 death of a Mumbai-based girl, Sanam Hasan (19), has found that her heart, which is critical to establish the cause of death, is missing. The agency suspects that it could be the result of “mishandling” by Sassoon Hospital, Pune, where Sanam’s body had been sent for a post-mortem.
Adding to the confusion was an “erred” report from the Mumbai Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), where the sample preserved by the hospital was sent for further tests. Sanam was studying fashion designing at Symbiosis College, Vimannagar, in Pune and she was found dead in her friend’s flat in Pune on October 3, 2012.
The case was initially investigated by the local police and the CID and was subsequently transferred to the CBI. While the agency continues to look for the organ, it has now been able to establish that Hasan’s death was due to intoxication caused by excessive drinking. The agency has ruled out foul play.
The probe has also been able to ascertain that Hasan was coaxed to drink by her friend, Mohnish Bholate (23), who had organised a party to celebrate Hasan’s birthday on the intervening night of October 2 and 3.
Bholate worked as a manager at a garment store in a mall on the Pune-Ahmednagar Road, where Sanam used to work part-time. They met at work and soon became friends.
“On October 2, Bholate called over 15 of his friends to celebrate Hasan’s birthday. While during initial questioning the friends had claimed that they had all crashed in the living room of the flat where the party was held, during subsequent interrogation they revealed that many of them slept in different rooms. They also said that on October 3 morning when Bholate tried to wake Hasan up, she did not respond. She was then taken to a local hospital where she was declared dead on arrival,” said an official privy to the development in the case.
The CID, which had probed the case initially, had arrested Bholate under Section 304 (A) of the IPC for causing death due to negligence. He is currently out on bail.
Sources said in the event the CBI fails to trace Hasan’s heart, they will close the case by chargesheeting Bholate for negligence. “Bholate arranged for alcohol and was the one who coaxed Hasan to drink,” the official said.
“Around 3 am , Hasan had bouts of vomiting but instead of taking her to a hospital, Bholate asked her to sleep in a room. In the morning when he tried to wake her up, she did not respond and was declared dead on arrival by the hospital were she was rushed by him,” the official added.
The agency has recorded the statement of the doctor who had conducted the post-mortem and had opined that “alcohol induced ischemic heart” as the cause of the death. Sources said that the event they don’t find the heart, they would attach the statement of the doctor as evidence to support the case.
“The Indian Evidence Act says the statement of the doctor who last operated upon the victim can be taken as an evidence. In this case, the doctor who conducted the post-morterm opined that the heart was ischemic (reduced blood supply) due to excessive alcohol causing it to bloat for want of oxygen. His statement would be cited as the evidence to support our case of the death being caused due to excessive drinking,” the official added.
The CBI said problems with the case started when they sent the heart sealed by the hospital to the Mumbai FSL for further tests.
The FSL sent a report stating the heart sent was that of a “male”.
Perplexed by the findings, in 2016, the CBI exhumed Hasan’s body and sent the same heart and DNA samples for further tests to the Hyderabad forensic laboratory.
The Hyderabad FSL said while the heart was that of a female, it was not that of Hasan but of an older female. The report stated that it did not match with the victim’s biological parents. The DNA sample taken from the exhumed body confirmed that the body was that of Hasan.
“When the officials at the Mumbai FSL were questioned, they confessed that they had erred in their findings. While foul play is ruled out, we have not been able to gather evidence to convincingly establish that the staff at Sassoon hospital might have misplaced the heart. The probe is trying to find out why the hospital did not take necessary precautions in preserving organs, which might be required for future analysis,” an official said.