Cannot act like post office, Arumughaswamy panel tells HC

State govt. backs commission, opposes writ petitions filed by Apollo Hospitals

March 07, 2019 02:04 am | Updated 02:04 am IST - CHENNAI

The Justice A. Arumughaswamy (retd.) Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Wednesday argued before the Madras High Court that it was neither a post office nor a ministerial office to obtain details of medical treatment rendered by Apollo Hospitals to former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa during her hospitalisation in 2016 and simply forward them to the government without verifying the adequacy, appropriateness and efficacy of the treatment provided to her.

Appearing before Justices R. Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy who were seized of two writ petitions filed by the hospital against the CoI, Advocate General (A-G) Vijay Narayan, representing the State government, too supported the stand taken by the commission. He asserted that the terms of reference of the CoI were wide enought to cover all aspects of the treatment provided to Jayalalithaa between September 22 and December 5, 2016.

“It is in the realm of speculation today as to what is the report that is to come from the Commission of Inquiry. At this stage, the petitioner (Apollo Hospitals Enterprises) cannot have an apprehension that the report will be against it. It may even be in favour of it, we do not know,” he said. Even otherwise, there was a specific bar under law against using statements made by witnesses before a CoI in any other civil or criminal proceedings, the A-G pointed out.

In so far as the hospital’s contention that a retired judge would not be able to analyse voluminous medical evidence and therefore a medical board should be constituted, the A-G said the government had already created a panel of four government doctors, specialised in treating ailments suffered by Jayalalithaa, at the request of the commission.

‘Manner of inquiry’

In his submissions, senior counsel AR.L. Sundaresan, representing the CoI, said it was not the case of the petitioner hospital that Mr. Arumughaswamy had any personal grudge or animosity against the hospital. The hospital was aggrieved only against the manner in which he was conducting the inquiry proceedings and that could not be a basis to entertain its writ petitions.

He said, “The CoI is not a post office or a ministerial office to simply forward details submitted by the hospital to the government without any assessment. A party to the proceedings cannot dictate terms or restrict the scope of reference,” he argued.

Since he could not complete his arguments on Wednesday, the case was adjourned to Friday for continuing the submissions.

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