The controversial claim by head of the forensic medicine department at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences that pressure was brought upon him to manipulate the post mortem report on Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar was debunked on Wednesday by the hospital in a new twist surrounding the mysterious death.
Rejecting the charge of Sudhir Gupta, who headed a three-member team that did the post mortem on the body of Pushkar, who died in mysterious circumstances in a hotel in January this year, the AIIMS said it "categorically denies" his claim.
AIIMS spokespersons Amit Gupta and Neerja Bhatla said there was no evidence that any pressure from outside was put on him (Sudhir Gupta) to alter the autopsy report.
The AIIMS rejection of Sudhir Gupta's claim came a day after reports emerged that he had filed an affidavit before Central Administrative Tribunal in a service matter in which he had levelled the allegation.
He had also written to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan against a government move to promote a faculty member which, he alleged, was started under the then UPA government so that he could be removed as the head of the department as he did not change the post mortem report.
Reacting to media reports, Vardhan said he has sought a detailed report from AIIMS Director in the wake of Sudhir Gupta's charge.
With police probe into Pukshar's sensational death still on, Tharoor sought "clear and definitive conclusion" about the cause of her demise.
On his part, Delhi Police Commission B S Bassi said the police would examine Gupta and Tharoor if necessary.
Bassi is believed to have briefed Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
During the meeting, Commissioner BS Bassi is said to have apprised him about the findings so far in the inquiry and the steps being taken by police for its early completion.
At a hurriedly-called press conference, the two spokespersons, said: “The AIIMS administration categorically denies any such allegation that there was any attempt to pressure Sudhir Gupta to change the post mortem report. We have no evidence that he was under pressure from outside and how he reacted to that.”
In his letter to Vardhan, Gupta had alleged that the "malafide" move to oust him from the post of HoD was linked to the post mortem of Pushkar and Nido Tania as he had taken a "professional and ethical" stand which went against "vested interests".
Tania, who hailed from Arunachal, was beaten to death in January in the capital, sparking huge uproar.
Sudhir Gupta refused to comment on his reported allegation, saying he has already stated the facts before the "competent" authorities.
"I don't want to comment on this issue. It is a legal matter, a serious issue, I cannot share with the media. I am a government servant. Whatever I wanted to say, I have said at a competent place," he said.
The premier health institute did not rule out disciplinary action against Gupta, saying "if AIIMS feels or if we get any directive then action will be taken as per rules".
Sunanda (52) was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of January 17, a day after her twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor.
The autopsy report had mentioned more than a dozen injury marks on Sunanda's both hands and an abrasion on her cheek which suggests a "use of blunt force", besides a "deep teeth bite" on the edge of her left palm. Viscera samples were preserved after the autopsy at AIIMS and were sent to CFSL for further tests.
The CFSL report hinted at drug poisoning but its findings were not conclusive enough to file an FIR in the case, according to police.
Image: Shashi Tharoor with Sunanda Pushkar