Jayalalithaa's Death Must Be Probed: Tamil Nadu Govt Tables Report, Reveals Important Details

In a lengthy report, the Inquiry Commission slammed a top government official, VK Sasikala, and concluded that an investigation must be done into the death of J Jayalalithaa in 2016. 

File photo of deceased former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.

The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday tabled the report of the Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry that probed into the circumstances that led to the death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa in 2016.

In a lengthy report, the Commission slammed at least one top government official, VK Sasikala, the close aide of the politician who lived with her, and concluded that an investigation must be done. 

Former Madras High Court judge, A Arumughaswamy, set up an inquiry committee in 2017 when Jayalalithaa's party, the AIADMK, governed Tamil Nadu. The purpose of the inquiry has been to sift through conspiracy theories, conflicting accounts of Jayalalithaa's illness and treatment at Apollo Hospital, and legal claims.

As mandated by its terms of reference, the Commission of Inquiry was empowered and entitled to go into the appropriateness, efficacy, adequacy or inadequacy of the treatment given to Jayalalithaa during her 75-day hospitalisation in 2016.

In its concluding remarks, the Committee said that Sasikala, the late chief minister's confidante, "have to be found fault with and investigation is to be ordered." The panel also named others along with Sasikala. 

The report accused Chief Secretary Dr Rama Mohana Rao, who was the top bureaucrat during Jayalalithaa's regime, of criminal charges. Further, it made strong observations against the health minister Vijaya Baskar and said that Apollo gave false statements on the leader's death.

Last year Apollo requested Supreme Court to exempt it from the inquiry accusing Arumughaswamy's 'incompetence' to handle medical issues. Earlier, the apex court had also stayed the inquiry until the formation of a medical board. 

In 2019, a bench headed by former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was hearing the appeal of Apollo Hospitals against an order of the Madras High Court rejecting its objection against the ongoing inquiry into the death of the AIADMK leader at the hospital.

Meanwhile, in 2017, Sasikala, who lived with Jayalalithaa for years, was arrested on charges of corruption after Jayalalithaa had died following her conviction in the disproportionate assets case in which Jayalalithaa was the prime accused. Four years later she was released from prison. However, her chances to claim the top leadership of AIADMK were thwarted. 

Jayalalithaa, who was lovingly called 'Amma', was one of the most powerful leaders of Tamil Nadu for more than fourteen years over six terms between 1991 and 2016. Her death had courted controversies as close aides alleged that she died a mysterious death.