Madras HC dismisses Apollo’s plea against probe into Jayalalithaa’s death
Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed the petition of Apollo Hospitals challenging setting up of the Commission of Inquiry to probe the circumstances leading to the death of J Jayalalithaa, then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
The high court observed that the panel is empowered to look into the appropriateness and adequacy of the treatment provided by the hospital to Jayalalithaa, who died on December 5, 2016 after 75-days of treatment at Apollo hospital in Chennai.
The Tamil Nadu government constituted the one member-panel, headed by Justice (Retired) Arumugha Swamy in September 2017 to inquire into the circumstances leading to her death.
Halfway through the proceedings, Apollo demanded that a 21-member expert medical board be constituted to assist the panel on the correctness of medical procedures and protocols of the treatment. It approached the high court, seeking a stay on the panel’s proceedings till such a board was set up.
Apollo also sought to quash the government order for setting up the panel. A division bench of the high court comprising Justices R Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy refused to stay the proceedings of the panel and quash the government order. The bench drew attention to the fact that Apollo Hospitals had not challenged the constitution of the inquiry commission at the initial state.
The Judges rejected the argument that a retired judge was not competent to deal with complex and intricate medical treatment provided to Jayalalithaa and a body of professionals from the relevant field should be roped in.
The bench, however, said that it is for the government to decide on the composition of the commission. In the same breath, the Bench rapped the panel for the innocuous and strange procedures adopted by it, like filing of an application/counter before the panel by its own counsel.
The averments made by or on behalf of the commission are disturbing, the Judges said making it clear that they were unwarranted. The high court stated that the commission could have avoided adopting such a procedure and instead passed a suo motu order to either implead a particular person rather than filing an application before itself by its own counsel.
With over 90 per cent of the work is over, the commission is expected to submit its report shortly.
“When the Dean of Madras Medical College had deputed a team of doctors, which is likely to submit a report to the commission, we decline the prayer,” the bench said in its order.