Tamil Nadu

Jayalalithaa death | Supreme Court to pass orders on setting up medical board

The court said the order would include the assurances given by CoI, Apollo Hospitals and Tamil Nadu government that they would “cooperate for an early completion of the inquiry”. File Image.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will pass orders to allow the setting up of a medical board of AIIMS doctors to help the Justice A. Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry (CoI) gather facts on the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai in 2016.

A Bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari said it would permit Apollo Hospitals to apply to the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) for “relevant” documents and examine “relevant” witnesses.

The Bench said directions of the High Court regarding the CoI sticking to the ambit of its jurisdiction and to follow procedure would stand.

The court said the order would include the assurances given by CoI, Apollo Hospitals and Tamil Nadu government that they would “cooperate for an early completion of the inquiry”.

The Tamil Nadu government, represented by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, said it would provide the CoI with a “700 sq. ft” room with a dais to easily accommodate the proceedings and maintain its dignity.

Initially, during the hearing, the State objected to several requests made in an application filed by Apollo, represented by senior advocate Aryama Sundaram and advocate Rohini Musa.

Mr. Dave said the requests were of an “omnibus” nature and would see “the matter drag on”.

“We have already spent crores,” Mr. Dave emphasised.

Mr. Sundaram countered that the “hospital is equally anxious about the possibility of the inquiry being dragged on”.

Mr. Dave said parties could again approach the High Court with one or the other grievance and delay the inquiry.

Justice Nazeer suggested that Apollo could indicate documents they wanted.

Mr. Dave said there should be some restriction on the number of documents and witnesses Apollo wanted. He said the court should also give a time limit to the CoI.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, for the CoI, said there would be “no question” of the medical board directly giving Apollo a copy of its report.

“The report will be given to the CoI. Apollo can ask the government for the report,” Mr. Kumar.

He submitted that the pandemic was still on and there should be no insistence on having doctors from AIIMS, Delhi, for the medical board, which would be based in Chennai.

The court wrapped up the hearing finally, saying it would pass orders.

Apollo had moved the top court accusing the panel of bias, violation of the principles of natural justice and conducting the fact-finding exercise outside its jurisdiction. The panel had denied the allegation of bias, saying it was “rhetorically made without providing any perspective of the matter.”

Mr. Sundaram had contended that the reputation of the premier Chennai hospital was “blighted overnight” by the panel, which took a tangent which was “unbelievable”. The senior lawyer had said the path followed by the panel was straight out of the fairy tale ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

The hospital had urged the Supreme Court to direct the commission to share records and permit it to participate in the examination of witnesses in the inquiry process.

The State had appointed the inquiry commission headed by Justice Arumughaswamy, a retired Madras High Court judge, on September 25, 2017. The commission’s reference was to examine the circumstances which led to the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa on September 22, 2016, and the nature of treatment given in order to determine the cause of hospitalisation.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 2:01:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/jayalalithaa-death-supreme-court-to-pass-orders-on-setting-up-medical-board/article37765294.ece

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