The Madras High Court on Friday made it clear that the Justice A. Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry (CoI) can proceed with its probe into circumstances that led to the hospitalisation of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on September 22, 2016 and the medical treatment provided till her death on December 5, 2016.
A Division Bench of Justices R. Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy provided the clarification at the instance of Advocate-General Vijay Narayan and senior counsel AR.L. Sundaresan, who said the tenure of the CoI was time- bound and that it had to wind up the inquiry at the earliest before submitting a report to the government.
When two writ petitions filed by Apollo Hospitals Enterprises against the CoI came up for hearing, the judges said the Commission would be at liberty to proceed with examination of witnesses, including the doctors involved in the issue, since the petitioner hospital required time till March 1 to commence arguments on the writ petitions.
In one of the two writ petitions, the hospital urged the court to restrain the commission from probing the correctness, adequacy or inadequacy of the treatment provided to Jayalalithaa, and in the other, it sought constitution of an independent medical board to find out the appropriateness of the treatment and submit a report to the court.
Last week, the CoI filed a counter affidavit denying the allegation of prejudice levelled against it by the hospital, which served a reply affidavit on the commission’s counsel R. Vijayakumar on Friday. The reply accused the commission of having failed to address hospital’s averments on the manner in which the inquiry was being conducted.
“Instead, the second respondent (CoI) had, in the counter-affidavit, resorted to attributing motives on the petitioner hospital on the basis of irrelevant facts and misrepresentations,” the hospital said. It stated that more than one medical opinion was available in so far as treatment provided to Jayalalithaa was concerned because of involvement of multiple medical teams.
“Therefore, a high level of medical expertise would be required to completely comprehend the diseases and treatment given to the Late Hon’ble Chief Minister. But the second respondent has embarked on a medical negligence case for which it neither has jurisdiction nor competence,” the reply filed by S.M. Mohan Kumar, Manager-Legal of the hospital, read.
Pointing out that the standing counsel for the CoI during the course of inquiry accused the hospital of having rendered inappropriate treatment to Jayalalithaa, the hospital said such accusations were the result of misconceptions and misinterpretations of medical science and they only strengthened the allegation of prejudice levelled against the CoI.