Jaya death probe: Panel gives Sasikala access to testimonies against her

Sasikala can cross-examine all those who testify against her, including those pending to depose.
Jaya death probe: Panel gives Sasikala access to testimonies against her
Jaya death probe: Panel gives Sasikala access to testimonies against her
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The Justice (Retd) Arumughaswamy Commission probing the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has finally agreed to disclose details of those who have testified against her close aide VK Sasikala. The probe panel, looking into the circumstances surrounding the hospitalization and subsequent death of Jayalalithaa was hearing a petition filed by Sasikala’s counsel which argued that she could cross-examine all those who testify against her, once they had all deposed before the Commission.

Following Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016 and the fratricidal infighting within the ruling party, the united AIADMK in September 2017 announced an inquiry commission to probe the late leader’s death. The Commission, headed by Justice Arumughaswamy has been conducting inquiries of all those connected to the matter.

On December 21, Sasikala, who is lodged in the Parappana Agrahara jail in Bengaluru, was summoned by the Commission to depose on her knowledge regarding the circumstances surrounding Jayalalithaa's death. She was summoned to also respond to complaints against her in addition to presenting evidence on her behalf. Following this, on January 5, her counsel Raja Senthoor Pandian had requested that the Commission disclose details of all those who had deposed against Sasikala. This was requested as this may give Sasikala the opportunity to respond, addressing the details of all testimonies.

Counsel Raja Senthoor Pandian quoted as precedent the instance of then Delhi North DCP Kiran Bedi invoking Section 8B of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 at an inquiry commission constituted to probe the police’s treatment of lawyers. Bedi had refused to depose before an inquiry commission, a decision that the Supreme Court subsequently upheld.

The Commission stated on Tuesday that apart from three testifiers, Sasikala's counsel could cross-examine all those who have testified against her.

The Commission admitted that they had not heard complete testimonies from Dr Sivakumar, who is Sasikala’s relative and Jayalalithaa's family doctor, Dr Balaji, cardiologist and S Poongundran, Jayalalithaa's personal assistant. Once their complete testimonies we're registered, Sasikala's counsel has permission to cross-examine them as well. The Commission will also provide a list of all those they have inquired and possibly allow the counsel to cross-examine them too. This also includes those who are scheduled to testify before the Commission.

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