'Going beyond its ambit’: Apollo slams Jaya death probe panel, seeks stay in HC

The main reason why the Commission has exceeded the stipulated time of 90 days to finish the inquiry is because it has digressed from its scope, Apollo stated.
'Going beyond its ambit’: Apollo slams Jaya death probe panel, seeks stay in HC
'Going beyond its ambit’: Apollo slams Jaya death probe panel, seeks stay in HC
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After months of going back and forth with the Arumughaswamy Commission, which is probing the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Apollo hospital has approached the Madras high court seeking a stay on the Commission’s proceedings relating to medical treatment provided to her.

In the petition filed by Apollo hospital at the Madras high court, it has come down heavily on the Commission, accusing it of going beyond its jurisdiction of inquiry. The strongly worded petition states that the Commission has digressed from its original purpose.

“The scope of the inquiry was for the 2nd respondent (Commission) to confine itself to gathering facts on the circumstances and situation leading to Late Hon’ble Chief Minister’s hospitalisation and subsequent treatment. It was not to go into the efficacy, correctness and adequacy or inadequacy of treatment,” reads the petition.

The commission is prejudiced, says Apollo

Apollo Hospital, in its petition, stated that the Commission’s inquiry has progressively become accusatorial, questioning the integrity and even the medical knowledge and competency of the medical witnesses of Apollo. Mentioning the fact that the Commission in one of its petitions had stated that its duty was to analyse complex medical facts and not medical experts, Apollo reiterated that the Commission was behaving like a consumer forum trying a medical negligence case.

“The inquiry lacks impartiality and objectivity and instead is vitiated by prejudiced, pre-determined and baseless conclusions in conducting the inquiry,” the petition states.

Arbitrary and irrelevant nature of inquiry

Referring to the Commission’s decision to call for medical records of former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu MG Ramachandran, Apollo submitted that the manner in which the inquiry is progressing reiterates the arbitrary nature of the Commission.

“It is submitted that while the findings of a Commission of Inquiry are not binding and conclusive, the arbitrary, unreasonable, partisan, biased and prejudicial manner in which the 2nd respondent (Commission) is conducting the proceedings has already caused grave hardship and irreparable damage to the reputation of the Petitioner hospital and its doctor,” Apollo hospital submitted.

Digressing from scope of inquiry

Apollo hospitals slammed the Commission for analysing the efficacy and correctness of the treatment given to Jayalalithaa, which is not a part of the purpose outlined for the Commission.

Pulling up the terms of reference set for the Commission, Apollo hospital stated that its scope was restricted ‘to inquire into the circumstances and situation leading to the hospitalisation on 22nd September 2016 and subsequent treatment provided till her unfortunate demise on 5th December 2016’ and not the adequacy or correctness of the treatment given to Jayalalithaa.   

Stressing on the petition filed by the Commission related to the decision to not perform an angiogram, Apollo stated that this action by the Commission showed its intention of delving into the efficacy of the treatment provided to Jayalalithaa and unilaterally deciding what treatment should have been given to her. The hospital stated that the main reason that the Commission has gone far beyond the stipulated time of 90 days to wrap up the inquiry is because it has digressed from the scope granted for its probe. “What was to be a simple inquiry with a time-frame of 90 days has devolved into a roving inquiry with no direction,” reads the petition.

The hospital also stated that despite assisting the Commission to facilitate a fair inquiry, it has not been given reasonable opportunity to provide its defence. It also placed on record its displeasure at the Commission for disclosing the appointment of a panel of four doctors to examine medical records of Jayalalithaa and stated that no opportunity was provided to Apollo to cross examine the panel to provide its defence. It also accused the Commission of constituting the panel with only four doctors and no specialists from the areas of medicine and surgery. 

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