In another twist to the death of Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) forensic department head Dr Sudhir Gupta said it was the police’s duty to find the poisonous chemical substance that caused her death.
“Finding the chemical substance from the viscera is not in the domain of the job of a doctor. It is the duty of the police to get it detected at specialised forensic labs. There is no difference between the first and the second opinion submitted to the police. It was never mentioned in any of the opinions that the cause of death was due to overdose of alprax,” Gupta said.
Gupta, who was part of the three-member panel that submitted a second opinion to the police, was speaking on record for the first time in the case.
“Even ethyl alcohol or only a paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen) are capable of causing deaths,” he said. The AIIMS report said the viscera was positive for ethyl alcohol, caffeine, acetaminophen and cotinine.
Gupta said poisonous substances such as thallium, polonium-210, nerium oleander, snake bites, photolabile poisons, and heroin were listed in the AIIMS report, which were said to be either undetectable or difficult to detect at Indian laboratories, ‘to broaden the scope of investigation for the police’.
The medical board in its opinion had reserved comment on specific poison or chemical since there was a lot of limitation on the viscera report. It categorically mentioned that the cause of death in this case was ‘poisoning.’
“It is difficult to detect these substances at AIIMS or other forensic laboratories in the country. It can be detected only at specialised forensic labs. Whether the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) can detect them, we have to wait and see,” said Dr Gupta.
HT had earlier reported that doctors at AIIMS had rejected the medical board opinion, saying if adequate sampling and clinical history were available then anything could be detected.
HT had also reported that Delhi Police had been asked to “revisit and reinvestigate” the Sunanda Pushkar case following the new findings that pointed to the presence of poison in her viscera. The findinds also ruled that the residue of alprax tablets found in her stomach was non-fatal.