Jaya death probe panel opposes Apollo Hospital plea in HC
Chennai: An inquiry commission probing the death of late Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa Friday opposed in the Madras High Court a plea by the Apollo Hospital seeking to restrain it from going into the medical treatment provided to her during her hospitalisation in 2016.
The Justice Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry submitted it was empowered to inquire into the efficacy, adequacy or inadequacy of the treatment to Jayalalithaa at the Apollo Hospital and claimed the hospital filed the petition with an intention to thwart the proceedings.
The hospital after participating in the inquiry proceedings so far cannot now dispute the commission's task of going into the question of adequacy or inadequacy of treatment, it said in an affidavit filed before a bench of Justice R Subbiah and Justice Krishnan Ramasamy.
In its petition, the hospital has prayed the court to quash government orders of 2017 that brought the medical treatment of the late Chief Minister under the Commission's Terms of Reference (ToR).
The hospital had alleged the panel was prejudiced against it and questioning of a top state official and accusations of "conspiracy and collusion and inappropriate treatment" evidenced it.
On February 11, the court had declined to pass any interim orders the petition and directed the commission to file its counter affidavit.
The affidavit filed by commission's Secretary S Komala, further submitted that Apollo Hospital had filed medical records and facilitated the depositions of its doctors, technicians and consultants who had treated the late leader.
So far 147 commission witnesses, including 56 doctors of the hospital and consultants from AIIMS, Delhi, have been examined and counsels for the hospital and V K Sasikala, the close aide of Jayalalithaa, too had been cross-examined.
After recording their evidence and after cross-examining them, the petitioner was barred from disputing the ToR of the commission at this distant point of time, it said.
The commission said it was assigned with the role of inquiring into the circumstances that led to the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa and subsequent treatment provided to her, as a fact-finding body.
"The efficacy, adequacy or inadequacy in the treatment provided to the late Chief Minister comes very much within the scope of the ToR," and merely because the inquiry was being held in those lines, bias cannot be attributed to it, the commission said.
Pointing out that the examination of witnesses had almost reached the stage of conclusion, the panel said it was too late to oppose it from looking into the treatment aspects.
The commission said it acted within the ambit and scope of the reference and never exceeded its limits.
It has afforded "fair opportunity," to the petitioner hospital to produce its witnesses and to cross-examine witnesses according to their convenience.
The panel said it was collecting relevant materials and after its evaluation, the report would be finalised and presented to the government.
The court posted the matter to Feb 22 for the hospital to file its rejoined to the commission's affidavit.
The commission headed by retired high court judge A Arumughasamy was set up by the AIADMK government in 2017 to go into the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa's hospitalisation on September 22, 2016, and subsequent treatment provided to the leader till her demise on December 5, 2016.