‘Sunanda affidavit’ exposes power games in AIIMS

Dr Sudhir Gupta’s sensational claim of pressure to give tailor-made autopsy report may or may not change the course of probe, but exposes how scientists and politicians are out to influence one another

pankaj

Pankaj Kumar | July 4, 2014




A pliable forensic department appeared to be the top priority on the agenda of the governing body meeting of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on June 7, 2014. Dr OP Murthy, who was debarred for promotion on account of his acts of indiscretion, was made professor with retrospective effect from July 1, 2011 to pave the way for his elevation as head of the department.

In the meeting, all obstacles in the way of Dr Murthy were removed by invoking the inherent powers of the governing body (GB) under exceptional circumstances. However, the office memorandum does not elaborate on the circumstances which warranted invoking this emergency provision.

Apparently, AIIMS director Dr MC Mishra and forensic department head Dr Sudhir Gupta were at loggerheads then. Dr Murthy’s promotion was necessitated by the AIIMS director’s inability to run his writ in the forensic department due to an obdurate head of department like Dr Gupta.

ALSO READ: AIIMS doc 'uses' Sunanda death case for internal wrangling

Now look at Dr Murthy’s track record which is less than illustrious in all respects. He was repeatedly denied promotion by the standing selection committee which clears promotion after assessing merits and demerits of candidates. Dr Murthy’s conduct was found to be dubious on account of his absenteeism and his professional competence was under cloud. Despite these serious handicaps, Dr Murthy’s elevation was ensured in the GB meeting of AIIMS whose legal position has been challenged by Dr Gupta in the central administrative tribunal (CAT). 

In fact, the manner in which Dr Murthy’s promotion was carried out is indicative of the clout wielded by the forensic department of the institute.
Sunanda Pushkar’s mysterious death and the resultant controversy is not an isolated case where faculty members of the forensic department got involved in a public spat and their disagreements caused a serious political or law and order crises.

Take the case of Ponty Chaddha, who was killed in a fratricidal fight. The autopsy on his body was conducted in such a cavalier manner that the police discovered on x-ray that three bullets were still lodged in Chaddha’s body. The police retrieved the body from the relatives and asked the forensic department to re-do the post-mortem and remove bullets for evidence.

That the AIIMS forensic department was susceptible to tailor autopsy reports to suit the interests of the police has come to light in various cases in the past as well. The most pertinent case related to the murder of Dr YS Sachan, deputy chief medical officer of Uttar Pradesh, whose body was found inside Lucknow jail. The team of forensic experts who visited the spot to assist the CBI declared the death as suicide.  The court, however, rejected the AIIMS report and passed severe strictures on the functioning of the forensic department.

The same kind of professional incompetence and opacity were demonstrated in the Aarushi Talwar murder case and the Ishrat Jehan encounter case, where the judiciary criticised the forensic experts. The Ishrat Jehan case triggered a political controversy in which top leaders of the BJP got embroiled. The supreme court-mandated SIT rejected the opinion of AIIMS experts, who tried to reconstruct the crime scene as a genuine encounter.

Apparently, the ongoing tussle on promotion in the forensic department of AIIMS is a fight to hold the leverage of influence that can be often effectively used to please or run down political masters. Dr Gupta’s sensational disclosure – that he was goaded to give a tailor-made report on Sunanda Pushkar’s autopsy by higher authorities in AIIMS and political establishment – may or may not have a significant bearing on the criminal investigation. But it is bound to expose the hideous face of criminal investigation which is, more often than not, influenced to suit political ends.

Comments

 

Other News

Voter turnout: Drop from 2019 reduces further

As the voting percentages dropped drastically in the first couple of phases of the ongoing general elections, observers and analysts spoke of ‘voter apathy’ blamed it on a lack of “wave” this time – apart from the heatwave, that is. The latest figures after the fourth phase, h

GAIL reports annual revenue of Rs.1,30,638 crore

GAIL (INDIA) Limited has reported 75% increase in Profit before Tax (PBT) of Rs.11,555 crore in FY24,  as against Rs 6,584 Cr in FY23. Profit after Tax (PAT) in FY24 stands at Rs. 8,836 Cr as against Rs.5,302 Cr in FY23, a 67 % increase. However, revenue from operations registered a fa

Women move forward, one step at a time

“Women’s rights are not a privilege but a fundamental aspect of human rights.” —Savitribai Phule In India, where almost two-thirds of the population resides in rural areas, women’s empowerment initiatives are extremely critical for intensifying l

Why you should vote

What are the direct tangible benefits that you want from the government coming in power? The manifestos of various parties set a host of agendas which many times falls back in materialising the intended gains. Governance failures, policy lapses, implementation gaps, leadership crisis and cultural blockages

How the role of Ayurveda evolved pre- and post-independence

Ayurveda, Nation and Society: United Provinces, c. 1890–1950 By Saurav Kumar Rai Orient BlackSwan, 292 pages, Rs 1,400  

General Elections: Phase 4 voting on in 96 seats

As many as 17.7 crore electors are eligible to vote in the fourth phase of general elections taking place on Monday in 10 states/UTs. 175 Legislative Assembly seats of Andhra Pradesh and 28 Legislative Assembly seats of Odisha are also going to polls in this phase. Polling time in select as

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter