The Madras High Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a couple of cases filed by Apollo Hospitals Enterprises to restrain the Justice A. Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry (CoI) from probing the correctness, adequacy or efficacy of the medical treatment provided to former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa between September 22 and December 5, 2016.
A Division Bench of Justices R. Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy deferred their judgment after hearing marathon arguments advanced by senior counsels C. Ariyama Sundaram and P.S. Raman for the hospital, Advocate General Vijay Narayan for the State government and senior counsel AR.L. Sundaresan, representing the CoI, over several days.
Saving his best argument for the last, Mr. Raman on Tuesday contended that the CoI had ‘clandestinely’ utilised the services of four government doctors to study the treatment provided to Jayalalithaa without informing either the hospital or the late CM’s close aide V.K. Sasikala about having requisitioned and utilised the services of these doctors.
He claimed that both the hospital and Sasikala came to know of the utilisation of the services of the government doctors only from a counter affidavit filed by the CoI, through its counsel R. Vijayakumar, to the present writ petitions. The CoI appeared to have used the services of the doctors after rejecting the hospital’s plea to constitute a medical board, he said.
The senior counsel wondered how the CoI could seek the assistance of doctors by invoking its powers under Section 5B of the Commissions of Inquiry Act of 1951 without the knowledge of the hospital as well as Sasikala to whom notices under Section 8B had already been issued because they were likely to be prejudicially affected due to the commission’s proceedings.
“Can a 5B appointment be made without notices to 8B noticees? If they (four doctors) had been appointed under 5B, your lordships will have to straight away allow my writ petitions. They (CoI) are creating a new law that CoI can appoint experts in secret to assist it in the inquiry and use the opinion of those experts to decide adequacy of treatment,” he contended.
The Division Bench was also told that the government had appointed a team of five of its doctors for the treatment of Jayalalithaa when she was under hospitalisation. However, those doctors did nothing and told the CoI that they did not even submit a report to the government because the Health Minister and Secretary themselves were in the hospital almost every day.
After Mr. Raman completed his submissions, Mr. Sundaresan, in reply said, nothing had taken place in secrecy. He claimed that the four doctors appointed under Section 5B of the Act were yet to submit their report to the CoI after which it shall give an opportunity to the hospital as well as Sasikala to respond to their report.