Tamil Nadu

Only 4 witnesses to be quizzed, says panel probing Jaya’s death

The Justice (retired) A. Arumughaswamy Commission, which is probing the hospitalisation and death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that only four witnesses remained to be examined, and that the panel should be allowed to complete its work and submit its report.

A Bench, headed by Justice Abdul S. Nazeer, assured the Commission, represented by senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, that its submissions would be heard in detail on September 23.

The court stayed the proceedings before the Commission in April 2019 on a petition filed by Apollo Hospitals in Chennai — where Jayalalithaa died in December 2016 — that the Commission’s functioning was “replete with bias”.

“Only four witnesses are left to examine. A fact-finding inquiry report should be presented in the House. The House will then decide... 155 witnesses have been examined... only four more. The inquiry has been pending since 2017,” Mr. Kumar submitted.

The Tamil Nadu government, represented by senior advocate Dushyant Dave and advocate Joseph S. Aristotle, said the Commission needed to complete its work. Senior advocate Aryama Sundaram, for Apollo Hospitals, agreed with the court’s decision to schedule the hearing for next week.

In 2019, the court had stayed the inquiry after Apollo Hospitals alleged that instead of conducting an impartial inquiry, the Commission had transformed itself into an adversary. Mr. Sundaram had then argued that the proceedings was causing a “grave prejudice” to the hospital’s reputation. He had informed the court that the Commission was even filing applications “on its own behalf before itself” alleging that the hospital had been negligent in the treatment of Jayalalithaa.

Apollo Hospitals had submitted that the Commission, instead of holding an impartial probe, had filed a pleading alleging a “criminal intent” on the part of the hospital and its doctors.

Mr. Sundaram had submitted that the Commission even asked for the medical reports of former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran, who died in 1987. Apollo Hospitals had submitted that the elaborate medical reports on the circumstances leading to the death of Jayalalithaa were released in March 2017 to end speculation.

In 2019, Tamil Nadu urged the court not to stay the Commission’s proceedings. But the Bench refused to oblige the State. The State had appointed the Commission, headed by Arumughaswamy, a retired Madras High Court judge, on September 25, 2017. Its 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 | Oct 27, 2021 10:34:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/only-4-witnesses-to-be-quizzed-says-panel-probing-jayas-death/article36507212.ece

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