Rajat Sharma

Sushant death case: Rhea’s counter-attack will prove futile

On Tuesday, Rhea’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde said, “the cocktail of illegally administered medicines and drugs may have led to Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide. His sisters need to be answerable to investigators and God”.

aaj ki baat_frame_12087The probe by Narcotics Control Bureau into the drugs angle in Sushant Singh death case is fast reaching its conclusion with a five-member special investigation team jointly questioning actor Rhea Chakraborty on Tuesday. In all likelihood, Rhea may be put under arrest after interrogation.

On her part, Rhea has fired the first salvo by setting the criminal law in motion against Sushant’s sisters. She went to Bandra police station late on Monday evening and filed a complaint against Sushant’s sister Priyanka and a Delhi government hospital doctor for prescribing anxiety medicines. She has asked Mumbai Police to file an FIR against both for cheating under IPC, and under provisions of NDPS Act and Telemedicine Practice Guidelines, 2020.

In her complaint, Rhea has said that the prescription showed Sushant as an OPD patient in Delhi whereas he was in Mumbai at that time. “This clearly shows that it is a forged one. Also, the doctor is a cardiologist who thought it fit to prescribe psychotropic substances to a person he did not know and had never met”, Rhea’s complaint said.

On Tuesday, Rhea’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde said, “the cocktail of illegally administered medicines and drugs may have led to Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide. His sisters need to be answerable to investigators and God”.

Clearly, this seems to be a clever move by the lawyer to deflect public attention from Rhea’s impending arrest for her involvement in procuring narcotics from drug peddlers in Mumbai through her associates. I do not think the act of prescribing medicines through long distance conversation should not be made a big issue. Rhea’s counter-attack on Sushant’s family members may, in the long run, prove futile.

Legally and technically, Maneshinde can pose the question as to how an OPD patient was prescribed anxiety medicines by a cardiologist through telemedicine. All of us know that work in government and private hospitals had come to a standstill due to COVID-19 pandemic followed by lockdown. The OPDs were closed and prescriptions were sought from whichever doctor that was available. Most of the doctors were then providing tele consultations and prescribing medicines via WhatsApp.

And what was the motive of Sushant’s sister Priyanka? She was trying to provide medical care to her brother. If a brother was having bouts of anxiety and sleeplessness, his sister was naturally trying to provide him help by consulting a doctor. As far as lodging a complaint by Rhea with Mumbai Police is concerned, the Supreme Court’s order is quite clear. All issues relating to Sushant’s death must be handed over to the CBI for probe.

All such legal antics cannot hide the fact that it was Rhea, who had deleted her WhatsApp chats with associates on the question of procuring drugs from shady dealers. It was the Enforcement Department which cloned her phone, retrieved the messages and passed them on to NCB, thus opening up a can of worms. Rhea, her brother and her associates were directly dealing with drug peddlers.

During interrogation by NCB sleuths, Rhea on Sunday and Monday consistently denied that she ever consumed drugs and said, she only smoke cigarettes and took alcohol. Tuesday’s interrogation by the SIT will try to pinpoint Rhea on the drugs angle, to know why she was procuring drugs too often and for whom.

There is more trouble brewing. The medical board constituted by AIIMS at CBI’s request is going to retest Sushant Singh’s viscera to determine whether the actor died to poisoning. Doctors in Mumbai’s Cooper Hospital had conducted post mortem of Sushant’s body but the AIIMS team has found several deficiencies in the viscera report. The forensic experts’ team has returned to Delhi and the medical board will determine whether the actor was poisoned or not.

Nearly 75 per cent of Sushant’s viscera has been examined in Mumbai at the Kalina lab, and AIIMS will now examine the remaining 25 per cent viscera. This will be tested on hi-tech equipment imported recently from Germany. They can find out minute traces of poison from the viscera of a dead person. Once examined, the report is expected after ten days, when it will be determined whether Sushant died of poisoning or not.

The AIIMS medical board believes that there were gross deficiencies during viscera examination. Forensic experts from AIIMS had reconstructed Sushant’s death scene at his apartment and they minutely studied marks on the actor’s kurta and photographs of marks on his neck.

India TV has in its possession the letter sent by AIIMS team to Cooper Hospital doctors asking them (1) whether there were ligature marks only on the neck (2) how did you rule out strangulation (3) how can ligature marks can occur if the kurta was used to tie around the neck (4) how will your rule out speculations about the person being strangulated?

The AIIMS forensic experts had their doubts when they saw a straight ligature mark on Sushant’s neck, whereas in cases of suicide by hanging, the mark is oblique and abraded. In all, five doctors of Cooper Hospital were questioned about ligature marks. Had a thin cloth used for hanging, the marks would have been sharp and clear, whereas the kurta cloth was thick and question arises as to how a straight ligature mark can occur.

The questions raised by AIIMS experts are already in public domain. Doctors at Cooper Hospital did not mention the time of death in their report and hurriedly described it as a case of suicide. The final viscera report from AIIMS may clear the confusion to a large extent.

The CBI which is carrying out the main investigation, is taking time to reach a definite conclusion. One cannot blame the CBI, because it got the case after a time lag of two months and there are too many angles to probe. CBI investigators are slowly and surely making progress in their investigation. It may still take time to conclude whether Sushant’s death was suicide or murder, and if it was suicide, whether there was abetment of any kind. Courts decide cases on the basis of circumstantial evidence and statements by witnesses. Clearly, the CBI is presently facing an uphill task.

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