Delhi Police and several AIIMS doctors dismissed as inconclusive on Friday an autopsy report from the hospital that said Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar died of poisoning.
Commissioner of police BS Bassi also rejected suggestions that his department had been lax in collecting evidence and that the probe should be handed over to CBI, saying that the force was “competent” to handle the case.
“We still do not have a conclusive forensic report on the basis of which we can reach any conclusion. As far as police is concerned our inquest is pending,” Bassi said.
“We are still in the process of conducting inquest proceedings in the case as per initial medical analysis.”
Police sources said they were almost certain that the case was nearing a dead end and even if a fresh case was registered nothing would come of it.
Pushkar, a 52-year-old socialite and businesswoman, was found dead in her suite at a luxury hotel in south Delhi on January 17, a day after a very public Twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over the latter’s alleged affair with Tharoor.
Doctors at AIIMS, the same government institute where a three-member team carried out the fresh autopsy, said the panel should have consulted forensic labs accredited for medico-legal work if they suspected poisoning.
The AIIMS report was based the findings of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) which had examined Pushkar’s viscera.
On Friday, HT 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 and also ruled that the residue of Alprax tablets found in her stomach was non-fatal.
But police said the new post-mortem report was “inconclusive”, “muddled” and “based on conjecture”.
“All this (new) report does is list human diseases and provide possible poisoning scenarios,” said an officer. “According to CFSL, the residue of Alprax tablets found in Pushkar’s viscera was not fatal, leading them to conjecture that her death occurred not due to medical but deliberate poisoning. But which poison?”
The AIIMS report said poisons like thallium, polonium-210, nerium oleander, snake venom, photolabile poisons and heroin were either difficult or impossible to detect by Indian forensic labs, but one of the doctors in the institute’s forensic department rejected this.
"There is no question of not detecting these substances. If adequate sampling and clinical history is available then anything can be detected,” the doctor said.
The AIIMS toxicology laboratory was not certified by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for medico-legal work and was only used for academic purposes, he added.
Dr Sudhir Gupta, who headed the three-member AIIMS panel, said, “Opinion has been given by the medical board. I cannot comment individually.”