In the latest development in the probe into the hospitalization and subsequent death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the one-man Justice Arumughasamy Commission has summoned Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, and the UK-based Dr Richard Beale. Summons have also been issued to Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai.
While Minister Vijayabaskar has been called to the Commission on January 7, the London-based Dr Richard Beale is expected to answer his summons via video conferencing on January 9. O Panneerselvam and M Thambidurai are expected at the Commission on January 8 and 11 respectively.
Dr Beale, an intensivist from the London Bridge Hospital, was regularly consulted by doctors at the Apollo Hospitals ever since Jayalalitha was admitted in September 2016.
Significantly, while the Commission has issued a summons to Dr Beale, it has put the onus on Apollo Hospitals to ensure that the specialist consultant appear via videoconferencing on January 9. â€śI am further to inform that as the said doctor has been engaged by your hospital and the fees for his consultation has been procured and paid by your hospital, you are absolutely required to coordinate the appearance of Prof Dr Richard Beale before the Commission of Inquiry through Video Conferencing on 09.01.2019 at 3pm Indian Standard time, without any fail,â€ť states the summons issued to Apollo Hospitals.
A legal source said, "The summons issued to Apollo Hospitals to ensure Dr Richard Beale appear before the Commission is absurd. How can Apollo be held responsible. Ideally, the Commission should approach the Indian consulate in London and ask them to facilitate this."
The Commission, which was the result of a bargain between Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam -- then warring factions within the ruling AIADMK, has been granted three extensions thus far since its constitution 16 months ago. It is expected to file its final report before Jayalalithaaâ€™s birth anniversary on February 24.
With several senior bureaucrats, close aides, household staff from Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden residence and multiple doctors testifying before the committee, new details have been reported from the time of her 75-day hospitalisation at Apollo Hospitals on Greenways Road in the city.
The latest in a slew of controversies that have plagued the death of the former AIADMK supremo was an outstanding bill amount of Rs 44 lakh, yet to be paid to Apollo Hospital. According to a bill summary submitted by the hospital to probe commission, the total cost of the treatment and other services amounts to Rs 6.86 crore, but only Rs 6.41 crore had been paid.
While the initial communication to the press from Apollo had said that the Chief Minister was suffering from fever and dehydration, the arrival of expert doctors from AIIMS, London, Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore and Dr Richard Beale from London raised suspicions.
The 68-year old leader had also been suffering from diabetes and hypertension. She passed away on December 5, 2016 after a cardiac arrest.