There is still no clarity over the circumstances that led to the hospitalisation of Indrani Mukerjea, accused of murdering her daughter Sheena Bora, on Friday.
While JJ Hospital dean Dr TP Lahane on Sunday said reports from the government forensic science laboratory (FSL), stating there was no trace of drugs in her body, were “confirmatory”, he added to the confusion by saying the former media tycoon was treated for drug overdose. Sources, too, confirmed she was admitted to the hospital with symptoms of drug overdose, including constricted pupils.
Lahane said the tests by PD Hinduja Hospital, which he repeatedly said was an accredited laboratory, showed high levels of sedative benzodiazepine in Mukerjea’s urine samples (2,088 units, ten times the normal level in a patient who is prescribed this drug), but said the inconsistency in findings of the two laboratories could be because of the type of tests conducted to detect the drugs.
“We treated Mukerjea for (drug) overdose and she responded to our treatment. She is drinking water. She will be observed for 24-48 hours,” said Dr Lahane, adding Mukerjea was out of danger and likely to be discharged on Tuesday.
“She is not in a condition to give a statement to the police. Although conscious, she is still drowsy.”
Lahane’s statement gives rise to the question — why was Mukerjea treated for drug overdose if there was no trace of drugs in her body. When asked on what grounds the doctors’ team claimed on Friday that she may have overdosed on anti-epileptic drugs or anti-depressants, Dr Lahane said it was based on the team’s clinical suspicion.
Hospital sources said Mukerjea was admitted to the hospital with a pinpoint pulse, where the pupil is constricted, a symptom common in patients with drug overdose. “People can fake unconsciousness, but pupil can’t be constricted voluntarily,” said a doctor.
“There are two sets of tests — screening and confirmatory. The reports from PD Hinduja Hospital and FSL showed the presence of drugs in screening tests, but there is always a possibility of an error, for which we conduct the confirmatory tests. The second round of tests performed by the FSL did not show the presence of drugs,” said Dr Lahane.
The FSL conducted chemical and instrumental testing using a technique called GC-MS, which Dr Lahane said is more reliable compared to the screening tests performed at PD Hinduja.
Rubbishing Lahane’s claims, a senior scientist from the FSL said the results of the second test cannot be negative, if the screening test results are positive.
“The first test tells if the samples, in this case urine, blood and stomach wash, contain any drug, while the second one only identifies the type of drug in the sample,” said the scientist. “We have received only one set of samples from the hospital, which contains 5-10 ml of urine and blood in separate containers.”
Dr Lahane said Mukerjea was on Mirtzapine, an anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety drug Etizolam in the prison.
“The reports [FSL and PD Hinduja] are not different, they are just different tests. The screening test gives a clue to the doctor to treat the patient and that is why we sent the samples to PD Hinduja Hospital. We thought the cause of her condition was medicine overdose,” said Dr Lahane, adding her MRI scan was normal.