The Madras High Court has held that the Justice Arumughaswamy Commission enquiring into the circumstances surrounding the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalitha in December 2016 has exceeded its limits by saying Apollo Hospitals and the Health Secretary colluded to maintain that she was given the best possible treatment.
It, however, dismissed on Thursday two writ petitions filed by the hospital management questioning the competence of the commission to go into the adequacy of treatment given to Jayalalitha during the 75 days she was there till her death on Dec 4 as it is a one-man commission and it has no medical experts to assist it.
A division bench of Justices R Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy said the commission is empowered to go into the “appropriateness, efficacy and adequacy of treatment” given to Jayalalitha as that was its mandate as per the GO issued. Therefore the plea of the hospital that it should be restrained from going into medical aspects “cannot be countenanced”.
At the same time, the court said there was force in the submission of the hospital that the commission has exceeded its limit in attributing negligence on its part or finding collusion between it and the government. Noting that the commission is yet to submit its final report, the court said it could avoid such observations. However, aspersions cast on the hospital by the commission by itself will not vitiate its proceedings, the court said and hoped the commission hereafter would strictly confine its inquiry as per its mandate. The court also said it was only a fact-finding body and it cannot fix guilt or innocence or rights or liabilities on any one.
Even if the commission gives such a finding in its final report, it is for the Government to take a call on it. If it chooses to act on it, the hospital can challenge it, the judges observed and disposed of the petitions.