The Madras High Court on Monday asked the state government and the Arumughaswamy Commission to respond to the allegations of Apollo Hospitals regarding the probe of the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. A petition filed by Apollo Hospitals, which accused the Commission of going beyond its jurisdiction of inquiry and sought a stay related to medical treatment, including with regard to the appearance of doctors.
The Madras HC, instead, asked the state government and the Commission to respond to the hospital’s allegations by Friday. The bench, comprising Justices R Subbaiah and Krishnan Ramasamy, reportedly said that they would take a decision only after the government and the Commission respond.
In a press statement, the hospital said that it had submitted that it would be filing a memo before the Commission so that doctors would not have to appear in front of them on Tuesday and Wednesday. Even before it did so, it received an e-mail from the secretary of the Commission stating "Witnesses stopped. Fresh date will be intimated later", which meant that the proceedings were adjourned anyway.
The court was hearing two writ petitions filed by the hospital, which stated that the Commission must confine itself to gathering facts, and not go into the “efficacy, correctness and adequacy or inadequacy of treatment”, and urging the court to form a medical board. “The inquiry lacks impartiality and objectivity and instead is vitiated by prejudiced, pre-determined and baseless conclusions in conducting the inquiry,” Apollo Hospitals’ petition stated.
This is the latest in an ongoing tussle between Apollo Hospitals and the Commission. The Commission has previously rejected Apollo’s petition to form a 21-member medical board to analyse statements given by doctors. The Commission had then called the demand belated, and that it was an attempt to scrap evidence that had already been submitted. Apollo had asked for the medical board to be constituted on the basis that the one-man Commission was unable to comprehend medical terminology used by its doctors. The Commission rejected this on the basis that the hospital was attempting to stall its proceedings, and that it can “evaluate the medical evidence and medical records produced during inquiry to see whether proper treatment had been provided. Medical Board cannot be constituted to play a supervisory role”.
In December, a petition was served by the Commission’s Standing Counsel, accusing the hospital of not providing best-recommended treatment to the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The counsel had also accused Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan of acting like the spokesperson of the Apollo Hospitals spokesperson, and colluding with the hospital as he was not in favour of airlifting Jayalalithaa, as that would have been tantamount to insulting Indian doctors.