Kalmadi suffering from memory loss – may affect trial

New Delhi: Suresh Kalmadi, lodged in Tihar jail for over two months in connection with the multi-crore CWG scam, is suffering from dementia, a disease related to memory loss, impaired reasoning and personality changes and this may have a bearing on his ongoing trial.

The 66-year-old MP from Pune was recently taken to Lok Narayan Jai Prakash Hospital where an MRI scan was conducted on him. The tests show that he was suffering from dementia which gradually affects cognitive functions of the person affected by it, Deputy Inspector General of Tihar R N Sharma said.

He said dementia at a preliminary stage was mentioned in the medical history submitted to Jail authorities by the family members.

The MP was ailing much before he was arrested and brought to jail on the allegations of being involved in large scale corruption in the conduct of the Commonwealth Games, he said.

"We are still awaiting for a formal copy of the test conducted at the LNJP," he said.

Legal experts feel that the impact of his health condition on the trial would be determined only after it was analysed properly by medical experts.

Kalmadi`s lawyer Hitesh Jain said that his client had been suffering from this problem for last four to five years and the same had been communicated to the jail and investigating authorities.

Noted lawyer K T S Tulsi said the first thing is that it needs to be established as to how long the undertrial has been suffering from dementia.

"Now if it(dementia) had settled at the time of offence, it may have a bearing on his culpability. As per the law, a demented person suffers from a global memory loss. If there is a memory loss at the time of the commissioning of the offence, it is not possible to have a fraudulent intention," Tulsi contended.

Asked whether this could be used as an alibi by the accused to skirt the trial in the CWG scam, Tulsi said "its a general trend that people take such recourse. What needs to be established is when the disease has affected him. Only after that one can decide whether it will have bearing on the case or not."

Dementia is considered to be common problem associated with progression of persons` age in the country as 7.5 per cent of rural and 10.6 per cent of urban elderly are suffering from the memory related disorder, according to a study published in medical journal The Lancet.

Kalmadi, sacked as CWG Organising Committee chairman, is one of the 10 accused on charges of corruption, criminal conspiracy, chearing and forgery in awarding a contract to a Swiss firm at exorbitant cost.

Kalmadi was taken to the hospital after a court allowed him to undergo a medical test on July 16 on the advice given by Tihar jail`s medical superintendent.

The DIG said the advice was for an entire health check-up and not specific to diagnose any memory-related illness.

Kalmadi`s lawyer had also moved an application for him to attend the forthcoming session of Lok Sabha after the Speaker`s office informed him that he would need to seek a permission from the court. The plea will come up for hearing tomorrow.

Another senior lawyer Manoj Taneja said the law was equal for all. "We should not start commenting only because he is Kalmadi. As an undertrial, he is also entitled for best medical facility. As far as its effect on the trial, this will need a certification of medical experts who can say at what stage it was and whether he is medically fit to be tried in this case."

Taneja noted that on the one hand Kalmadi is believed to be suffering from dementia and on the other he was approaching for permission to attend Parliament session.

Although Kalmadi might use the disease in his defence, medical experts are of the opinion that the progression of disease takes years to reach a stage when it starts affecting cognitive functions of daily life.

A senior Neurologist based in Lucknow, who did not wish to be named, said stage of dementia has to be considered before giving any benefit to an accused in the case.

"It is difficult to comment without seeing the progression of dementia. Normally in initial stages, it does not affect a person. Also the symptoms starts showing only in an advanced stage," he said.

Dr I K Malhotra, Neuro Psychologist with Vimhans, said "dementia is treatable in only 10 to 15 per cent cases. It deteriorates with age. A person who is multi-tasking can have a tendency to forget but then whether it is dementia, various other tests need to be conducted on a patient before arriving at the conlusion."

Kalmadi has been in judicial custody since May five after he was arrested by the CBI in the last week of April this year.