Mystery still reigns over the sudden and unnatural demise of Dr Rameez Chougle (25) and his elder sister Rehab (27). Lapses in investigations have only raised more and more unanswered questions in the mind of city forensics experts and senior police officers supervising the probe.
While the Versova based parents and relatives of the deceased have already ruled out any foul play in the demise of their children, clouds of doubt still hang over the cause of deaths, the statement of Rehab to treating doctors at Criti Care hospital, and the subsequent line of treatment for ‘suspected poisoning’ at both Criti Care and Kokilaben hospitals.
Police Surgeon Dr S M Patil, who is also the medico-legal advisor for the state government, suggested that the police, instead of working in isolation, should form a high level committee of experts to find out the exact circumstances that led to the death of the siblings. He added that the committee should comprise senior investigating police officers, forensics surgeons, forensic scientists from the State Forensics Science Laboratory in Kalina, and doctors from both hospitals that treated Rehab.
Meanwhile, forensics scientists in Kalina are still working on the residue of grey powder that was found from the siblings’ residence during their inspection on Saturday afternoon. “We have started the testing and it would take us a few days before we give our final opinion on the findings,” said M V Malve, director, FSL, Kalina.
Additional Commissioner of Police (West) Region Vishwas Nangre Patil added, “We are probing the case from all possible angles and it is too early to make any revelation at this stage.”
Here are some of the unanswered questions that forensics experts and police should look to answer, if they are to find the key to the mysterious deaths.
1) Did the investigating police officer collect the stomach wash and other pathology reports from Criti Care hospital, where initial treatment was given to Rehab? Were the samples sent to FSL, Kalina for chemical analysis, as per the protocol?
2) Days have passed since the demise of Rameez and Rehab. Why have the Versova police not asked the forensic surgeon from Cooper Post Mortem Centre what his findings were on the cause of Rehab’s death, and the line of treatments adopted for suspected poisoning at Criti Care and Kokilaben hospitals?
3) Was Dr Sunil Pai the treating doctor at Kokilaben hospital? If not, how did he fill in the postmortem requisition form for Rehab’s body, and that too without filling in the remarks column? Also, why didn’t a senior doctor countersign the requisition form?
4) Why did the investigating police officer who claimed Rehab’s dead body not follow the Criminal Procedure Code and insist for the hospital treatment papers and then hand it over to the autopsy surgeon? This is a mandatory practice in case of medico-legal deaths.
5) Why did the treating hospital not hand over the papers voluntarily to the hospital treatment papers to the police officer, since the death was sudden and unnatural?
6) Why did the autopsy surgeon at Cooper Postmortem Centre not demand for the hospital papers before conducting the autopsy, in order to understand the line of treatment given to the deceased and rule out any negligence on part of the treating doctor?
7) If the hospital papers were not submitted to the autopsy surgeon by the investigating police officer, why did the autopsy surgeon not keep the final cause of death pending?
8) Why didn’t he send the blood samples to check for suspected poisoning?
9) Why didn’t the investigating police officer mention the phrase ‘suspected poisoning’ under the heading line of treatment, in his report from his panchnama?
10) Why did the investigating police officer in the Accidental Death Register (ADR) form write ‘No’ for suspected suicide or poisoning, when the Versova police had already been intimated by both Criti Care and Kokilaben hospitals that Rehab’s case was medico-legal and that they were treating her for suspected poisoning?
11) Why did the investigating police officer not apprise the autopsy surgeon that Rehab had been treated for suspected poisoning?
12) Why did the investigating police officer mention dehydration and vomiting in the ADR, when Rehab was really treated for suspected poisoning?
13) Why did the police not record Rehab’s uncle’s statement, who had informed the Kokilaben doctors about pest control treatment at her house? Why did Rehab’s mother deny that the house had been pest controlled in her interactions with the police?
14) How did the family doctor conclude Rameez’s cause of death, without following the guidelines set by the Medical Council of India, which clearly mentions that the deceased should have been treated for a week on OPD basis or kept under treatment of the said doctor in a hospital for 24 hours before he can issue the cause of death certificate?
15) Why did the family obtain a police NOC for burying Rameez’s dead body, when they already had a cause of death certificate issued by a family doctor, which was duly signed on form 8? Why was the police asked to fill in forms 4 and 5, which is usually done when the dead body is to be taken out of Mumbai?
16) Why did the police not record the statements of doctors who treated Rehab at Criti Care and Kokilaben hospitals?
17) Why did the police not corroborate the statement made by Rehab’s father against those made by Rehab herself and her uncle. Rehab’s father mentioned that his daughter was in shock after learning about the demise of her brother, and so developed dehydration and vomiting. Rehab as well as her uncle, however, revealed that her health worsened due to pest control at home.
18) Why did the autopsy surgeon not preserve the viscera for chemical analysis and histopathology? This is mandatory in all suspected cases of poisoning.
19) Neither the family doctor nor the autopsy surgeon mentioned a specific cause of death, which identified what led to their symptoms and decline. Why did the autopsy surgeon not mention if Rehab’s death was unnatural or not in his death certificate?
20) Did the Versova police work hand in glove with the relatives, who are believed to be hiding facts?
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