Jayalalithaa Death Inquiry Commission Report Inconclusive
The report of the Justice Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry, set up in 2017 to inquire into the ‘mysterious’ death of Tamil Nadu chief minister (CM) J Jayalalithaa’s, hardly mentions the circumstances leading to her demise.
The Commission, headed by the former Madras High Court, Judge, has recommended an investigation against Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala, former health minister Dr C Vijayabaskar, former health secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan and the late CM’s doctor Dr KS Sivakumar of Apollo Hospitals (Chennai) and held responsible for her death but without offering any substantial evidence or findings.
The Commission has also recommended an investigation against former chief secretary Rama Mohan Rao, Apollo Hospitals chairman Dr Pratap C Reddy and Dr YVC Reddy and Dr Babu Abraham of the hospital.
Several political parties and commentators have rubbished the recommendation and the ‘ambiguity’ of the Commission, which didn’t even consider the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) report, which found the treatment “as per correct medical practice” and that “no errors have been found in the care provided”.
The Commission was formed based on the demand of then-deputy CM and AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam (OPS), who had revolted against Sasikala following the election of Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) as CM. OPS had also demanded Sasikala’s ouster from the AIADMK.
The Commission’s report is being termed inconsequential. Terming it “unprofessional”, Pattali Makkal Katchi leader and former Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss told reporters in Coimbatore that it can only be “used for political purposes”.
The Hindu’s former editor-in-chief N Ram termed the report “flagrantly incompetent, unjust and outrageous”.
Frontline associate editor RK Radhakrishnan tweeted: “#Arumughasamy says nothing about the presence and role thereof, of the then Union Minister #VenkaiahNaidu, or the Agent of the Centre in #Tamilnadu. Why?”
CM MK Stalin promised the Assembly of stringent action but news reports suggest that the DMK government has sought legal opinion on the Commission’s recommendation.
ALLEGATIONS WITHOUT PROOF?
Accusing Sasikala, Vijayabaskar, Radhakrishnan and Sivakumar and others, the report stated: “They successfully threw it (suggestions of doctors on performing Angio on Jayalalithaa) to the wind on the pretext of postponing it to achieve their aim under some pressure. Hence, investigation is to be ordered.” However, the report failed to provide any proof regarding the accusation and assumed a ‘strained relationship’ between Jayalalitha and Sasikala based on a Tehelka article after the latter was dismissed from the party in 2011.
The Commission alleges secrecy being maintained about Jayalalithaa’s hospital stay, including her ailments and the treatment. DMK spokesperson Saravanan Annadurai said, “The then-state government did a great disservice by not sending out any bulletin and the government never ever committed itself on paper about her health condition.”
However, there have been no medical reports alleging neglect or mystery over Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation or treatment.
AIIMS REPORT NOT CONSIDERED
Senior advocate Aryama Sundaram, who represented the hospital in the top court, told The Hindu, “It is understandable that the Commission will go against the medical board’s report. For him [Justice Arumughaswamy] to say anything else is unfathomable given he was not competent to decide on medical matters. How is a lawyer more competent than an expert in medical affairs?”
SETBACK FOR SASIKALA?
The Commission concluded that “Sasikala, Dr Sivakumar, Dr J Radhakrishnan and Dr C Vijayabaskar have to be found fault with and investigation is to be ordered (sic)”.
Sasikala released a statement denying the report’s allegations but said that she is willing to face any inquiry. The report is being considered a setback for her political ambitions since she continues to claim to be the AIADMK general secretary and aims for a comeback in the 2024 election.
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