SC stays inquiry commission proceedings into Jayalalithaa's death at Apollo Hospitals
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday stayed the proceedings of an inquiry commission set up to probe the death of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, in 2016.
The Madras High Court on April 4 rejected Apollo Hospitals' objections to the setting up of the Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry that was empowered to probe "the appropriateness, efficacy, adequacy or inadequacy of the treatment given to Jayalalithaa during her 75-day hospitalisation in 2016".
The then Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo had died allegedly of massive cardiac arrest on December 5, 2016 at Apollo Hospitals.
"Notice. Stay of further proceedings of the inquiry commission," said a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
READ MORE | Jayalalithaa death probe: Madras HC rejects Apollo Hospital's plea
Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for the hospital, sought a stay of the inquiry proceedings saying that the panel cannot scrutinise the medical treatments given to the leader during her hospitalisation.
"The committee says that you should have done the operation which you did not do. Can these aspects be dealt by it," the senior lawyer said.
The counsel appearing for the state government said that 90 per cent inquiry has been completed and the same should not be stalled.
The appeal of the hospital was mentioned before the bench in the morning praying for urgent hearing on Friday itself.
The plea was allowed.
READ MORE | Will punish those behind Jayalalithaa’s death: MK Stalin
The high court, while rejecting the plea of the hospital, had said that as mandated by its terms of reference, the Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry was empowered and entitled to go into the matter.
It had refused to stall the proceedings of the commission and disposed of the petition filed by the hospital seeking to quash the government orders which laid down terms and reference of the probe panel.
It had also rejected the prayer of the hospital for setting up a medical board to assist the panel during the inquiry.
The high court had said if a harmonious interpretation was made to terms of reference, the government was careful enough to include the word "subsequent treatment provided till her unfortunate demise on December 5, 2016".
This meant the nature and extent of treatment given by Apollo Hospitals, which includes appropriateness, adequacy or inadequacy of the treatment, the court had said.
"We are of the view that if the commission is restrained from going into the correctness, efficacy, adequacy or inadequacy of the medical treatment provided by the petitioner hospital, it would only defeat the very object with which the government had appointed the commission of inquiry," it had said.
Therefore, the panel can look into the medical treatment provided by Apollo Hospitals by screening the records produced before it and arrive at a conclusion, the bench had said.
It had disagreed with the hospital's contention that a retired judge of the high court (Arumughaswamy) cannot be the competent person to deal with the complex and intricate medical treatment and hence experts and professionals should be included in the panel.
It had said that even in the absence of inclusion of experts or professionals, as per Section 5B of Commission of Inquiry Act, the commission can independently take the aid of any person who, in its opinion, shall be of assistance for conducting the inquiry.
Referring to the hospital's charge that its doctors were repeatedly questioned and harassed, the high court had said it was not inclined to accept the submissions that witnesses (doctors) were wantonly, wilfully and deliberately harassed by the commission.
The government had set up the inquiry commission to look into circumstances leading to the death of the AIADMK supremo, citing doubts expressed by various people.