Inquiry Commission’s proceedings were stayed due to Apollo Hospitals’ plea that its functioning was ‘replete with bias’
The Supreme Court on Thursday scheduled for October 20 a case concerning the Justice (retired) A. Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry into the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa in 2016.
A Bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari adjourned the hearing after senior advocate Aryama Sundaram, who appears for Apollo Hospitals where Jayalalithaa died, cited a personal difficulty.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, for the Tamil Nadu government, raised strong objection to the adjournment.
However, the court agreed to hear the case after the Dussera holidays.
In the previous hearing, the Inquiry Commission had said that only four witnesses remain to be examined and the panel should be allowed to complete its work and place its fact-finding report before the State Legislative Assembly.
The proceedings before the Commission were stayed by the Supreme Court in April 2019 on the basis of a plea by Apollo Hospitals that the inquiry panel’s functioning was “replete with bias”.
“Only four witnesses are left to examine. A fact-finding inquiry report should be presented in the House. The House will then decide… 155 witnesses have been examined… only four more. The inquiry has been pending since 2017,” Mr. Kumar had submitted.
In 2019, the court had stayed the inquiry after Apollo Hospitals alleged that the Commission, instead of conducting an impartial inquiry, had transformed itself into an adversary. Mr. Sundaram had argued for the hospital that the proceedings before the inquiry panel was causing “grave prejudice” to the hospital’s reputation.
Tamil Nadu had, in 2019, urged the court to not stay the Commission proceedings. However, the Bench had refused to oblige the State and proceeded to freeze the inquiry.
The State had appointed the inquiry commission headed by Justice Arumughaswamy, a retired Madras High Court judge, on September 25, 2017. The Commission’s reference was to examine the circumstances which led to the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa on September 22, 2016 and the nature of treatment given in order to determine the cause of hospitalisation.
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