Thursday 29 October 2020

AIIMS forensic head says probe incomplete; media makes headline out of selective citation

The AIIMS panel, readers may note, had access to just 20% of the viscera that the doctors of Cooper Hospital had preserved for future tests

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A large section of the mainstream news media declared hours ago that the forensic team of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), which has examined the viscera of Sushant Singh Rajput, had ruled out the late actor’s murder. While the head of the AIIMS team Dr Sudhir Gupta said, “The investigation is still going on… We can’t conclude simply on murder or suicide based on just ligature marks and scene of the crime. Need more investigation which is still going on and not concluded,” the headlines picked another part from his quotes: “Sushant’s death is a case of suicide. Murder is completely ruled out.”

The AIIMS panel of forensic doctors, readers may note, had access to just 20% of the viscera that the doctors of Cooper Hospital had preserved for future examination. Further, since the body of the late actor had reached the municipal hospital in Mumbai more than 6 hours after the estimated time of death, the possibility of detecting poison in it was negligible, a doctor from the Cooper Hospital’s forensic team is on record stating.

Meanwhile, a separate forensic team (electronic) has examined a laptop, two hard disks, a canon camera and two mobile phones that Sushant used.

The AIIMS team had submitted their findings to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 29 September. The findings of the AIIMS medical board concurs with the findings of Cooper Hospital, where Sushant Singh Rajput’s autopsy was conducted.

Nevertheless, the Central Bureau of Investigation will continue with its investigation from the angle of suicide, say sources. It will look at the incident of Sushant’s death from the abetment to suicide angle too. All aspects are still open in the CBI probe and if any evidence comes to light proving otherwise, say the sources, the agency will add Section 302 of the IPC, which is a murder charge.

However, the CBI has been investigating the case for 57 days now. Nothing has come up so far, say sources. With the forensic reports in, it is now up to the investigation agency to take the case to its logical conclusion.

On 26 September, Vikas Singh, the lawyer of Sushant Singh Rajput’s family, had claimed that according to an AIIMS doctor, the cause of the actor’s death was “200% strangulation”. Vikas Singh had said, “Getting frustrated by the delay in CBI taking a decision to convert abetment to suicide to the murder of SSR [Sushant Singh Rajput]. The Doctor who is part of the AIIMS team had told me long back that the photos sent by me indicated 200% that it’s death by strangulation and not suicide.”

Today, Dr Gupta reacted to the lawyers statement, saying, “What he is saying is not correct. We can’t conclude simply on murder or suicide based on just ligature marks and scene of crime. Need more investigation which is still going on and not concluded.”

Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead at his Bandra home on 14 June while private detectives had posted their findings on YouTube, claiming he had been murdered the previous night and the killers used his phone the next morning to create an alibi.

Mumbai Police had called the death a case of suicide within 15 min of discovering the corpse. They filed an Accidental Death Report (ADR) the same day. Between that day and 19 August when the Supreme Court handed the case over to the CBI, Mumbai Police had been carrying out inquests (asking people questions) instead of conducting a proper investigation.

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