Friday, January 9, 2015

Trial in Palm Oil case should continue : High Court

Quashing a plea of the United Democratic Front (UDF) government seeking to close the palmolein scam, the Kerala high court on Thursday ordered that the trial into the case should continue. This comes as a setback to the government as the court approved the Vigilance court’s stance that the case should not be closed now. Justice P Ubaid pronounced the order on an appeal filed by the state government and Jiji Thomson, a senior IAS officer, against the Vigilance court order, which rejected the plea to withdraw the case. “The withdrawal of the case will only help the accused. It would be against the public interest,” the court observed, adding, “the fact that the key witnesses are not alive is not reason enough to close the case.” Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan and VS Sunil Kumar, MLA, had moved the high court citing it would be unfair to withdraw corruption cases. The court made it clear that both Achuthanandan and Sunil Kumar could intervene in the issue on behalf of the public. The UDF government had requested to withdraw the decades-long case that originated in 1991, when K Karunakaran was chief minister, citing there was no point in continuing as three officials with the civil supplies, who had given key statements in the case, had died. Karunakaran, who was the key accused, is also no more. However, the Vigilance Court in Thrissur had ordered that the case should not be withdrawn. The government claimed that the Vigilance had held that the Cabinet’s decision to import palmolein was right. Moreover, the Centre had not given the nod to try former Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas and Jiji Thomson. However, the Vigilance Court rejected all these claims.
Achuthanandan and Sunil Kumar had claimed that the decision to withdraw the case, which caused severe loss to the state exchequer, was ill-aimed and politically motivated. The Vigilance Court, had, however, rejected the plea to conduct a probe against chief minister Oommen Chandy. The case alleged irregularities in the import of palmolein by the government through Power and Energy Limited Company, a Singapore-based firm.
The investigation agency’s charge sheet says the government’s decision caused a loss to the tune of Rs 2.32 crore to the exchequer. The decision was to import 15,000 tonnes of palm oil. Opposition seeks CM’s resignation Meanwhile, the Opposition LDF has demanded the resignation of chief minister Oommen Chandy as he was the finance minister when the scam
occurred. Pannyan Raveendran, secretary, CPI state council, said the high court order is a charge sheet against the government and the chief minister is responsible for that.
Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan, in a press conference today, said Chandy should resign from the post. He also urged the government not to appoint Jiji Thomson, director, Sport Authority of India (SAI), as chief secretary of the state. He is also one of the accused in the case.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sunanda Pushkar was murdered: Delhi Police

Almost a year after Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a five-star hotel in New Delhi, the police on Tuesday registered a case of murder, putting aside all the alternative and speculative theories revolving around her death. 50-year-old Sunanda was an Indo-Canadian businessperson and the wife of then minister of state for human resource development, Shashi Tharoor. The Delhi police on Tuesday said that Sunanda was poisoned and that the poison was either administered to her by mouth or injection. The police have relied on medical and forensic reports while registering a case under section 302 of the IPC. "We have got the final medical report from AIIMS, and we have been told that it was an unnatural death... It was not a natural death," Delhi Police chief B S Bassi told the media. "She died due to poisoning. Whether the poison was given orally or injected into her body is being investigated," he said, adding the report from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was received on Dec 29. Bassi said the quantum of poison given to Pushkar, who was 52, had not yet been ascertained. "For that we will send her viscera abroad."
A murder case had now been registered against unknown persons at Delhi's Sarojini Nagar police station, the police chief said. A special team led by DCP (south) Prem Nath and additional DCP (south) Kushwah has been formed to investigate the case. The police will go for a re-investigation in the case which was earlier being probed under 174 CrPC, treating the death as unnatural. Former Union minister Shashi Tharoor may also be questioned by Delhi Police. Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in a five-star hotel room on January 17, 2014 in the capital this year. A day before she was found dead, Tharoor and Pushkar had issued a joint statement saying they were distressed by a row over some unauthorized tweets posted from their Twitter account and that both were "happily married and intend to remain that way". The statement claimed that distorted accounts of comments allegedly made by Pushkar, alleging an affair between her husband and a Pakistani journalist, had led to some erroneous conclusions. The medical investigation into Sunanda Pushkar's death took many twists and turns through the past year. The first autopsy report, submitted to a magistrate on January 20 last year, had said that Tharoor's wife died due to drug overdose. But it also reported a dozen injury marks on her body.
The final autopsy report that came out in July put the number of injury marks at 15. All the injuries were caused by blunt forces except one which was an injection mark. Later, Sudhir Kumar Gupta, who headed the forensic team in AIIMS, alleged that he was pressured to show that Pushkar's death was natural. The AIIMS denied the allegation, and Gupta was removed from the post. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar did not commit suicide but was murdered, Delhi Police chief BS Bassi said on Tuesday. "We have got the final medical report from AIIMS, and we have been told that it was an unnatural death," Bassi told the media. Here are some of the details we know in the murder case of Sunanda Pushkar: *Sunanda Pushkar died due to poisoning
*Whether the poison was given orally or injected into Sunanda's body is being investigated *Police are getting Sunanda's viscera tested abroad to zero in on the poison in her body. *A murder case had now been registered in connection with Sunanda Pushkar's death. *An FIR has been filed under section 302 against unknown persons in Sarojini Nagar police station *A special team has been formed to probe the case. This will be overseen by deputy commissioner of police Prem Nath. * Autopsy report points to over 15 injury marks on Sunanda's body *Shashi Tharoor may also be questioned.
*Delhi Police are reportedly seeking the list of passengers who travelled from Dubai and Pakistan to Delhi, and vice versa, on January 17 — the day Sunanda was found dead. *A day before she was found dead, Tharoor and Pushkar had issued a joint statement saying they were distressed by a row over some unauthorized tweets posted from their twitter account and that both were "happily married and intend to remain that way".

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Justice VR Krishna Iyer, eminent jurist, dies in Kochi

Former Supreme Court judge and Kerala minister VR Krishna Iyer passed away in a hospital in Kochi on Thursday, doctors said. Iyer celebrated his 100th birthday November 15 this year. "He (Iyer) is no more. He passed away at 3.30pm," cardiologist Manu R Varma told reporters here. Iyer was in the hospital since last on Friday for treatment of pneumonia and his condition deteriorated in the past few days. He was the minister of law in the first communist government led by legendary EMS Nampoothiripad in 1957. He was also the member of the second Kerala legislative assembly. Iyer became a judge of the Kerala high court in 1968 and remained there till 1971. He was also the member of the Law Commission for two years.
In 1973, he was appointed the judge of the Supreme Court and retired in 1980. He was sworn in as the judge of the Supreme Court on July 17, 1973 and retired at the age of 65 on November14, 1980. Born to a leading criminal lawyer V.V. Rama Ayyar in 1915 in Thalassery, Justice Iyer had his education at the Basel Mission School, Thalassery, Victoria College, Palakkad, Annamalai University and Madras Law College. After starting legal practice in 1937 under his father in the Thalassery courts, he used to appear for workers and peasants in several agrarian struggle-related cases in his early years of practice.
He became a member of the Madras Legislative Assembly in 1952. He held portfolios such as law, justice, home, irrigation, power, prisons, social welfare and inland navigation in the first Communist government in Kerala headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad that came to power in 1957. He was instrumental in passing several pieces of people-oriented legislations during his tenure as minister in the Communist government. He resumed his legal practice in August 1959 and threw himself into the legal profession after he lost the 1965 Assembly election. He was appointed a judge of the Kerala High Court on July 2, 1968. He was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court on July 17, 1973, and retired on November, 14, 1980. He served as a Member of the Law Commission from 1971 to 1973.
His landmark judgments include the Shamser Singh case which interpreted the powers of the Cabinet vis-à-vis the President, Maneka Gandhi case which gave a new dimension to Article 21, Ratlam Municipality case, and Muthamma's case. He had pushed for reformative theory, in contrast to deterrence theory in the criminal justice system. He also received brickbats for granting conditional stay on the Allahabad High Court verdict declaring former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's election to the Lok Sabha void.
In 2002, Justice Iyer was part of the citizen's panel that inquired into the Gujarat riots along with retired justice P.B. Sawant and others. He was conferred with Padma Vibhushan in the 1999. He had unsuccessfully contested to the post of President against Congress nominee late R. Venkitaraman in 1987. He also headed the Kerala Law Reform Commission in 2009. He has to his credit around 70 books, mostly on law, and four travelogues. Wandering in Many Worlds is his autobiography. He has also authored a book in Tamil, Neethimandramum Samanvya Manithanum. He has been actively involved in social and political life after his retirement, almost till a few weeks when ill-health and advancing age took their toll on him. His 100th birthday was celebrated in Kochi last month and a number of programmes were organised by members of the legal fraternity, citizenry and his friends and well-wishers to felicitate him. Justice Iyer's wife predeceased him. He is survived by two sons.
The body of Justice Iyer will be taken to the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium, Kadavanthra, on Friday, where members of the general public will be able to pay homage to the departed jurist, said M.G.Rajamanikyam, Ernakulam district collector. The funeral will take place at Ravipuram crematorium at 6 p.m. on Friday, he said.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Vigilance can decide registering case against Mani: HC

The vigilance director can decide registering case against Finance Minister K M Mani in the bar bribery scam, Kerala High Court opined. The vigilance director should take an independent decision after considering the report of the preliminary investigation in the case. Political intervention should not be there in the director’s decision. A division bench led by acting chief justice Ashok Bhushan said the government’s opinion should not be sought in registering the case.
The court order came after settling the pleas of CPI leader V S Sunil Kumar MLA and LDF convenor Vaikkom Viswan seeking registration of FIR against Mani. A preliminary investigation is on in the case. If a complaint is lodged to the police, a preliminary investigation will be conducted first and only if needed a case will be registered. The court pointed out that the vigilance is following the same procedures in the bar case also and so they cannot direct to register a case.
The court refused LDF’s demand to monitor the investigation. The case is only in the preliminary stage. The demand for the court to monitor the case is immature and inappropriate, the division bench pointed out. The preliminary investigation report will be submitted within a week, informed the advocate general. Bar association working president Biju Ramesh had alleged that Mani had accepted a bribe of Rs one for the closed bars to open.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Election commission report suggests NRI voting via proxies and electronic ballots

The Election Commission has suggested allowing non resident Indians (NRIs) to participate in voting through proxies and electronic ballots. 
In a report it is expected to submit to the Supreme Court, a copy of which was seen by ET, the EC recommends starting with a pilot programme covering a few places, and then extending it to assembly and eventually to parliamentary polls. If the process is initiated under court orders, NRI voting can become a reality in assembly elections by 2016. 
The commission prepared the report following a Supreme Court directive. While dealing with a petition filed by Shamsheer VP, an NRI from Kerala who argued that voting rights cannot be denied to those who go outside for study or in search of employment, the court asked the poll panel to favourably consider granting them these rights. 

An EC committee finalised the report on October 13. While the report recommends allowing both proxy and e-voting , it ruled out personal voting at Indian embassies and postal ballots as effective options. 

In the proxy system, NRIs can name a proxy in their constituency who can exercise his or her right to vote, the report says. In the e-ballot system, blank ballot papers will be electronically sent to NRIs over the Internet. The NRI can mark his vote and return it by post to the returning officer. NRIs will have to apply online six months before elections and the authorities will verify their claim before allowing them to vote. 

Currently there are only 12,000 NRI voters, but they need to
travel to India to cast their votes. Proxy and e-ballots could encourage more to register as voters. 

The report suggests changes in Section 60 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to facilitate proxy and e-voting. 

Currently, proxy voting is allowed for armed force personnel. They can nominate a proxy which will be attested by their commanding officer and a first-class magistrate and notary. The issue of validation of proxy for NRIs will have to be sorted out still. Congress, BSP, CPI had opposed proxy voting, while the ruling BJP had supported it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Supreme Court panel report hints at gold pilferage in Padmanabhaswamy temple

Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram which has gold worth over Rs 1 lakh crore is in the news again. The Supreme Court appointed Amicus Curie and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanian has made some startling revelations in his report to the Apex court. According his report, gold plating machines were found inside the temple leading to suspicion that gold at the temple is systematically being stolen by some 'very influential' people. The report suggests that some people on the highest echelons of the temple administration may have something to do with it. It also raises serious questions over the manner in which the Travancore royal family is administering the temple. Report talks about how an auto-driver was found dead in a well near the temple and the acid attack on another person.
The report, (a copy of the report is in the possession of CNN-IBN/IBNLive) says "it appears that there has been large scale breach of moral and fiduciary duties towards Sree Padmanabhaswamy and the temple, and the temple which is a public temple has been treated for all effects and purposes as a private fiefdom". It also comes down heavily on the auditors accusing them of "failing in performing their ethical and moral duties". The Amicus Curie has suggested that an independent team comprising people like former CAG Vinod Rai and a Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India must conduct a fresh auditing of the temple. The century old temple has been the royal family temple of the Travancore kings who ruled southern part of Kerala till it joined
the Union of India after Independence from the British. The secret vaults in the temple have gold and gold ornaments worth over Rs1 lakh crore. The government is spending over Rs 1 crore on the security of the temple every month. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple wealth: Achuthanandan says his stand vindicated
Seizing on the report of amicus curiae pointing to "mismanagement" of the famous Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, CPI-M leader V S Achuthanandan today said it only vindicated his stand that attempts were made to take away its riches to which UDF government turned a blind eye.
In the light of the report submitted to the Supreme Court, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Devaswom Minister V S Sivakumar should explain why the government did not take any step to ensure that the temple and its wealth were managed properly, he said in a statement here. "When I said that there had been attempts to take away the precious treasures of the temple, the government not only took it lightly but accused me of casting aspersions on the Travancore royal house. The report submited in the Supreme Court by amicus curiae Goapal Subraniam has vindicated what I had said," the nonagenarian leader said.
When the Kerala High Court directed the government to look into the possibilities of freeing the temple from the control of the royal house, the then LDF government headed by him had declined to challenge that in the apext court. But further steps in that direction could not be taken as the assembly elections were declared, he said. However, the UDF government that came to power in 2011 did not challenge the royal house when it approached the Supreme Court against the high court order, he said. Amicus Curie Report

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Grandma, Kid Hacked to Death Alamcode near Attingal Murders were 'surprise gifts' for lover

In a tragic incident, a 60-year-old woman and her grand-daughter were hacked to death at their residence at Alamcode near Attingal on Wednesday. The deceased were Omana, 60, of Thushara House, Alamcode, and three-and-a-half-year-old Swasthika, daughter of Omana’s son Lijeesh. The Attingal Police has taken the accused into custody who was identified as Nino Mathew, 40, hailing from Mamam. Attingal CI M Anil Kumar said Nino, a married man, reportedly had an extra-marital affair with Swathi, his co-worker in a Technopark company and Lijeesh’s wife. Last week, Lijeesh grew suspicious over the affair after he found some SMSes sent by Nino to Swathi. Lijeesh, a KSEB staffer, had a quarrel with his wife following the incident, the police said.
''I have a surprise for you. Please wait till evening,'' reads a message sent by Nino Mathew to his lover Anu Santhi, after calling her before setting out to commit the murders. His target was actually Lijeesh, her husband. However, he killed Omana and Swastika before Lijeesh came home as he wanted to eliminate eyewitnesses, Nino told the police. Circle inspector M Anil Kumar, who recorded Nino's arrest, said according to statements given by Nino and Anu, who is also in police custody, she was aware that Nino would kill her husband but she never expected him to kill her daughter too. It was about a week ago that Lijeesh found out about their illicit relationship from an SMS Nino sent to Anu. Lijeesh told Anu that she could move out with Nino but he would not let their daughter go with her. Anu informed this to Nino and told him that she was willing to go with him, provided Lijeesh was moved out of her life. ''The accused arrived at Lijeesh's house, 'Thusharam', fully prepared, with the necessary weapons and clothes to change after committing the crime,'' Anil Kumar said.
When he found that Lijeesh was out of home, he called him on his mobile phone. Lijeesh told him that he was at Chathanpara, where his new house was being built, and he would be back in 30 minutes. In the meantime, he went to the kitchen and hit Omana on the back of her head with a golf club, which was cut short to fit inside his bag. He then hacked her twice with a machete . He also hacked the little girl twice on her chest and waited for about 15 minutes for Lijeesh to reach home.
In a bid to portray it as a robbery-murder case, Nino stole the gold chain of Omana and the waist chain of Swastika, which the police recovered from his house at Kulathoor later. The arrest of Anu was recorded late in the night. The circle inspector said the mobile phone of Nino contained video clips of intimate moments between him and Anu. Neighbours shocked: The deceased Omana's next-door neighbours, Jayan and his family, were at their workplaces when the crime took place. Omana's sister-in-law Thankamany and family, who lived a house away, had gone to Kilimanoor to invite close ones to her elder daughter's wedding in June.
''If we were around, we could have intervened and saved them when we heard the screams,'' said Thankamany, who sat shattered on the footsteps of her house, flanked by her two daughters. For Jayan, who still thought the crime was the handy work of a robber, it was something hard to believe. ''My daughter works at Kollam Corporation Office and wife at Travancore Devaswom Board's office at Fort in the city. Both of them return very late in the evening, mostly after dark. Till now, they have not complained about any anti-social activity. We felt very safe here,'' he said.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

61st National Film Awards Suraj Venjaramood Wins Best Actor Shahid’ wins two top awards, ‘Ship of Theseus’ best film

Suraj Venjaramoodu bagged the Best Actor award in the 61st National Film Awards His portrayal of a sweeper in Dr Biju's directorial 'Perariyathavar' won him the fame.It is indeed a proud moment for all Keralites as well as for the whole Malayalam industry. Sura Venjaramoodu, who rose to fame with his comedy roles in movies and with the Trivandrum slang.
The Best Actress Award went to Geetanjali Thapa for her performance in Malayali actor-turned director Geethu Mohandas' film Liar’s Dice.Hindi movie ‘Shahid’, based on the life of murdered human rights lawyer Shahid Azmi, won the best actor award for actor Rajkummar Rao and the best director award for Hansal Mehta in the 61st National Film Suraj has made it happen. With his outstanding performance in the movie Perariyathavar, he bagged the National Award for the Best Actor for the year. He said that he dedicate this award to all the Malayalis and the Malayalam industry. Earlier, comedian Salim Kumar too bagged the same award for his yet another brilliant performance for the film Aadaminte Makan Abu. Perariyathavar was directed by Dr Biju and Suraj played the role of a sweeper in the film. It was a de-glam role and it mainly focussed on the difficulties faced by the marginalised people in the society. Indrans had also played a pivotal role in the film. This is Suraj's first National Award. Now, this has proved once again that the Malayalam industry is indeed blessed with having many profound actors who have extreme range in acting. Also, Dr Biju directed movie Perariyathavar wins the National Award for Best Environmental film. Malayali actress and director Geethu Mohandas' husband and cinematographer Rajeev Ravi bags the Best Cinematographer of her directed film Liars Dice. Best Actress Geethanjali Thapa too wins National Award for Best Actress for Liars DHindi movie ‘Shahid’, based on the life of murdered human rights lawyer Shahid Azmi, won the best actor award for actor Rajkummar Rao and the best director award for Hansal Mehta in the 61st National Film Awards ice. Shaji N Karun's Swapaanam too bags a National Award. Oneindia congratulates all the winners of 61st National Awards.
“It is a wonderful feeling. It is a tribute to Shahid Azmi. It is just his karma which has worked for the film and for us. It’s also a tribute to my team who stood by me for three and a half years while making this film,” Mehta said. Reacting to the news, Rao said: “I am more than happy. It is the most important day of my life. Never expected this to happen. I am thankful to everyone actually Hansal Mehta, Shahid team and the audience. I am overwhelmed.” He shared the Best Actor award with Suraj Venjaramoodu, who was honoured for his performance in Malayalam movie Perariyathavar. Among the first to congratulate Rao was his Kai Po Che director Abhishek Kapoor. He tweeted: @raj_kumar31 U Giant of an actor. Congrats on the #nationalaward. V proud if u. Anand Gandhi directed ‘Ship of Theseus’ was named best feature film at the 61st National Film Award. ‘Gulaabi Gang’ won the award for Best Movie on Social Issues. ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ was named Best Popular film. Best Actor (Female) went to Geetanjali Thapa for ‘Liar’s Dice’. Best Supporting Actor (Female) was shared by Aida Elkashef (Ship of Theseus) and Marathi actress Amruta Subhash for Astu. Saurabh Shukla was declared the best supporting actor for court-room drama ‘Jolly LLB’, which was also named the best Hindi film.
Indira Gandhi Award for best debut film will go to Marathi director Nagraj Manjule for his critically acclaimed ‘Fandry’. Nargis Dutt Award for best feature film on National Integration will be given to Balu Mahendra directed Tamil film ‘Thalaimuraigal’. The awards were announced by an 11-member jury headed by noted directed Saeed Akhtar Mirza. In the language category, ‘Ajeyo’ was named the best Asamese film, ‘Bakita Byaktigato’ (Bengali), ‘December 1′ (Kannada), ‘Baga Beach’ (Konkani), ‘North 24 Kaadham’ (Malayalam), ‘Aajcha Diwas Majha’ (Marathi), ‘Thanga Meengal’ (Tamil) and ‘Na Bangaaru
Talli’ (Telugu) were other winners. ‘Yellow’ (Marathi) and ‘Na Bangaaru Talli’ were given special mention by the jury. The other language winners were: ‘The Coffin Maker’ (English), ‘RI’ (Khasi), ‘The Crossing Bridges’ (Sherdukpen). Interestingly, both the original and adapted screenplay awards went to Kannada films. P Sheshadri won the award for his original screenplay in ‘December I’ while Panchakshari won the award for adapting ‘Prakruti’. Best editing went to V J Sabu Joseph for the Tamil sports drama ‘Vallinam’ while best production design was won by ‘Miss Lovely’.

Friday, March 28, 2014

CBI to Probe Cases against Salimraj, Salimraj returns to haunt Oommen Chandy

Ordering a CBI probe into alleged land grabbing by chief minister Oommen Chandy's former gunman and aide Salim Raj, the Kerala high court on Friday didn't mince words in holding Chandy accountable for criminal activities of some of his erstwhile personal staff, saying, "the chief minister is answerable to the state".
Noting that members of the chief minister's personal staff are involved in multiple criminal cases, including land grabbing and in cheating scores of people in the Solar Scam, Justice Harun ul-Rashid in his judgment said: "The chief minister's office should be a model institution serving the people of the state.
The above incidents have raised serious questions on the functioning of the chief minister's office." The court was considering petitions filed by A K Shareefa of Kalamassery and Premchand R Nair of Kadakampally alleging that property worth over Rs 275 crore was seized by Salim Raj and his relatives in connivance with revenue officials.
Justifying the need for a CBI probe, HC held: "Prima facie evidence of the presence of unscrupulous elements among the personal staff in the chief minister's office and the associated criminal activities in these cases call for a thorough and independent investigation into the crime and the associated activities involving personal staff in the chief minister's office."
The court also criticised the chief minister , he is responsible for what happens in his office. “The Chief Minster should explain to the people what happens in his office. He is responsible for appointing dishonest persons as his staff members,” the court said.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Drug overdose may have killed Sunanda Pushkar: Autopsy

The autopsy of Sunanda Pushkar indicates that she died of drug overdose, most likely a lethal combination of sedatives, some other strong medicines and perhaps alcohol. While the team of AIIMS doctors conducting the post-mortem examination used a bland phrase - "sudden unnatural death" - as the cause of death, Delhi police officers probing the death were more forthcoming in private conversations to state that it was possibly a case of suicide. However, it is still not known whether the drug overdose was caused by inadvertent recklessness or by a premeditated desire to end life. What's now more of less certain is that Sunanda Pushkar was deeply distressed by her husband, Union minister Shashi Tharoor's friendship with Pakistan journalist Mehr Tarar and had demanded six months ago that he snap all communication with her. Whether this demand was met is uncertain because tweets between Tharoor and Tarar surfaced in public two days before her death.
It's learnt that Tharoor and Sunanda have been fighting in public and there were several witnesses to it. In her interactions with journalists on Wednesday and Thursday, Sunanda appeared stressed and often less than charitable towards her husband. She said several things to TOI but later called to retract her statements, indicating yet again the disturbed state of her mind. Journalist Nalini Singh, who had spoken to Sunanda the night before her death, confirmed to TOI that Tharoor's friendship with
Tarar was causing her deep distress. "She was distraught," said Singh. "The Tarar thing had overpowered her. She was planning something - 'I won't take this lying down,' she said." Singh added there was something more she knew which she wouldn't share with the media. "I have written to the Police Commissioner and the DCP asking them that they can record her statement if they want," she said.
On the India Today website Singh is quoted as saying that Sunanda's illness was also disturbing her. "She was under the impression that she was very ill. She told me that she had been diagnosed with stomach TB. It was late at night and maybe she said it would be cancer now...She was under the impression that she was not well at all. That would definitely play on her mind," Singh is quoted as saying. On Saturday, Sunanda's post-mortem was conducted by a team of experienced doctors headed by Dr Sudhir Gupta. Dr Gupta told TOI: "Preliminary investigations are suggestive of drug overdose." Samples of the viscera - internal organs of the body, for example, heart, liver and intestines - have been taken to check toxicity caused by drug overdose. "We will conclude our opinion within a couple of days, subject to the outcome of toxicology reports."
Dr Gupta said there were physical injuries on certain parts of Sunanda's body, although these were unlikely to have caused her death. Sources said the police have found strips of medicines including sedatives (Alprax) from Pushkar's hotel room, giving credence to the theory of death due to drug overdose. "Alprax is a sedative prescribed mainly to patients suffering from anxiety problem, sleep disorder or depression. However, if taken in extremely high dosage it can affect the functioning of the heart leading to even death," said a drug expert, who did not want to be identified. He said that consuming such high dosage cannot be accidental. "It is mostly suicidal," he said. Initial examination of Sunanda's body - examination of the body condition, rigor mortis - has revealed death took place around 4-7 pm. "The body arrived at the institute at around 2 am ," said Dr Amit Gupta, the AIIMS spokesperson. He said that since it was a medico-legal case being overseen by a judicial magistrate, doctors had to wait for the inquest orders before conducting the autopsy.
"After inquest orders were received, institute director Dr M C Misra formed a medical board to conduct the procedure. Consent was given by Pushkar's husband Shashi Tharoor and her son Shiv Menon," Gupta said. The post-mortem was filmed and all injuries marks were photographed to ensure that every single detail is preserved. "The samples will be examined at the hospital lab and parts of it will be sent to the Forensic Sciences Laboratory for detailed examination. The report should be out by Monday," said an AIIMS official.
"You should rest assure that there will be no partiality. We will share the laboratory results as and when we get it," said Dr Gupta, the head of the forensic sciences department. The body of Pushkar was handed over to Tharoor, who was present while the post-mortem was being conducted despite his illness, at around 2 pm. After that the body was taken by Tharoor for the last rites.