Will not appear before Arumughaswamy Commission inquiring into Jayalalithaa’s death, Apollo Hospitals tells Supreme Court

Published : October 26, 2021 14:15 IST

The office of the Arumughaswamy Commission in Chennai, a file photograph. Photo: K. PICHUMANI

Apollo Hospitals has told the Supreme Court that it will not cooperate with the Arumughaswamy Commission, which is inquiring into the events surrounding former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death, because the commission was “biased.”

Jayalalithaa died at the hospital on December 5, 2016, after she underwent treatment there for 75 days. The commission was set up in September 2017 and in April 2019 the Supreme Court stayed its functioning on a plea by the hospital. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government, which was voted to power in Tamil Nadu in May 2021, had promised in its manifesto to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the former Chief Minister’s death. The DMK government had approached the court to vacate the stay.

The hospital told the Supreme Court that while many political leaders were yet to appear before the commission (a reference to former Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who had demanded the constitution of the commission), the doctors who attended on Jayalalithaa were repeatedly asked to appear before it. Moreover, the commission did not have a doctor or a member well-versed with medical protocols and, hence, it was not in a position to understand some of the submissions.

The hospital accused the commission of selectively leaking the testimony given by the doctors, which resulted in sketchy stories in the media, tarnishing the reputation of the hospital. The commission, the hospital said, also did not stay within its terms of reference and was venturing into areas far beyond the remit of a fact-finding committee. The hospital submitted that it was willing to cooperate with any court, but did not have any faith in the commission. Hence, it will not appear before the commission.

Responding to another charge, the hospital said that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government had directed the hospital to remove the CCTV in the floor that Jayalalithaa occupied. The government had argued that this was a privacy issue and so ordered the CCTV cameras to be removed.

Panneerselvam had parted ways with the AIADMK in February 2017, claiming, among other things, Jayalalithaa had died in mysterious circumstances. He came back to the party about six months later and was made Deputy Chief Minister in the Edappadi K. Palaniswami Ministry. One of the conditions for the “merger” of Panneerselvam’s party with the AIADMK was the constitution of a commission to probe Jayalalithaa’s death. Strangely, though Panneerselvam was summoned twice by the commission, he refused to appear, citing pressing work. He had later stated that he was willing to appear before the commission. This is yet to happen.