Apollo Hospitals Enterprises on Tuesday went hammer and tongs against Justice A. Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry (CoI) before the Madras High Court. The hospital accused the commission of being prejudicially biased against it and having prejudged that the institution had not provided appropriate treatment to former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa during her hospitalisation between September 22 and December 5, 2016.
In his submissions before a Division Bench of Justices R. Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy, senior counsel P.S. Raman said, “almost every doctor, summoned by the comission to adduce witness, was harangued by the commission by asking are you trying to cover up for Apollo’s fault.” He said, such suggestive questions posed to the doctors by none less than Mr. Arumughaswamy himself was nothing but a clear declaration of hostile behaviour.
The counsel pointed out that as many as 33 doctors had sworn an affidavit before the High Court complaining about the ill-treatment meted out to them at the commission. “It is unfortunate that the doctors who appeared before the commission were taken aback by the entire line of proceedings and the manner in which the evidence was recorded. Commission has been confronting medical and paramedical witnesses with Apollo in mind,” he said.
Referring to the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act of 1952, Mr. Raman said, they do not authorise a CoI to cross examine any of the witnesses much less the witnesses that it had summoned on its own for examination. Nevertheless, the Arumughaswamy CoI had been questioning the doctors, more like a cross examination, just because they had made statements in favour of Apollo Hospitals during their examination in chief, he said.
Taking strong exception to a question put by the commission to a doctor from whom it wanted to know whether the hospital has doctors who give opinion for the sake of money, the counsel asked: “Is this the kind of questions that can be put to a doctor?” He also brought it to the notice of the court that all witnesses who had been examined so far were those whom the commission itself had summoned on its own and not at the instance of the hospital or others.
Reading out passages from different proceedings of the commission to support his claim that the commission had given adverse findings against the hospital on many occassions even before it could wind up the inquiry, the senior counsel said, such findings had been given without even giving an opportunity of hearing to even a single person representing the hospital management. All those who had been examined so far were doctors and paramedical staff alone, he added.
The hospital had engaged senior counsel C. Ariyama Sundaram as well as Mr. Raman to conduct two cases filed by it against the CoI. While the former had argued the matter elaborately on Monday, the latter completed his arguments on Tuesday. After hearing them, the judges adjourned the cases to Wednesday for hearing counter arguments to be made by senior counsel AR.L. Sundaresan assisted by the commission’s counsel on record R. Vijayakumar.