Psychologist says depression did not drive Charu Deshpande to suicide

Jul 11, 2014, 08:11 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

A psychological autopsy conducted by Dr Harish Shetty has led him to conclude that the former Tata Steel communication chief, who was found dead on June 28 last year, did not suffer from any mental illness

A psychological autopsy of Charu Deshpande (57), former corporate affairs and communication chief at Tata Steel who was found hanging in his Vasai home on Friday, June 28, 2013, has negated the police’s theory that Charu took his life because he was depressed.

57-year-old Charu Deshpande was found hanging at his Vasai home on June 28, 2013.
57-year-old Charu Deshpande was found hanging at his Vasai home on June 28, 2013

A psychological autopsy is done to ascertain the state of a dead person’s mind just prior to his death, and is conducted through conversation with family members and close friends. The Press Club Mumbai had approached well-known psychiatrist Harish Shetty, who conducted the autopsy.

The autopsy has confirmed that Charu was threatened by unidentified persons before he took his life, and that he was living in a climate of fear – a fact that Dr Shetty ascertained after speaking to Charu’s family members and close acquaintances.

The one-page report concludes that ‘Charudatta Deshpande did not suffer from depression or any serious mental illness before his demise. He appeared to be troubled by stressors from his last employment and felt threatened weeks and months before his death’. Dr Shetty said, “I have submitted my provisional report to Press Club, Mumbai. As a matter of principal I cannot divulge any findings to the media.”

Demand for CBI probe
On July 8, Charu’s wife Nivedita and his brother-in-law Mahesh Bhatkal jointly wrote a letter to the state Home Minister RR Patil, expressing their dissatisfaction over the manner in which the investigation was progressing, raising serious doubt about the investigating police officials, and demanding that the case be handed over to the CBI for further investigation.

‘We fear that the investigation by this department is seriously compromised and hence want the investigation to be moved to the CBI or to Crime Branch, Mumbai, which initially conducted the probe. This is the only way to take the investigations forward and ensure justice for Charu Deshpande’, the letter read.

On Thursday, Gurbir Singh, president of Press Club, Mumbai, met with Patil. During the meeting, Patil shared his decision to transfer the case to the CBI. Two major instances of police negligence were brought to the notice of Patil. To begin with, the investigating police officials were clueless about the internal fact finding committee that Tata Steel had constituted and the action that it had taken against two senior officials of the company.

Consequently, the police till date have not laid their hands on the report filed by this internal fact finding committee. In another development that raised serious doubts about the police’s neutrality in the case, the Vasai police said they did not want to take the accused Prabhat Sharma into custody for abetment to suicide, even after the Sessions Court in Vasai found prima-facie evidence and rejected his anticipatory bail application.

“We are hopeful that the CBI will take up the investigation dispassionately, conduct a detailed probe and chargesheet and prosecute those involved. We expect justice to Charu Deshpande and his family,” said Singh. Meanwhile, TATA Steel officials have offered to pay Deshpande’s family monetary compensation. Tata Steel has already sent an official letter to the family. Tata Steel did not reply to questions sent to it my mid-day.

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